Art & Creativity
Culture & Community
Education & Training
Media & Communication
Mind & Body
People & Life
Philosophy & Wisdom
Science & Nature
Soul & Spirit
Trade & Commerce
Work & Career


Web This Site


creative commons.png
Creative Commons 2.5

Learning: A Global Phenomenon

Learning is a global phenomenon. It's reach is quite literally world-wide and touches every human being living in every possible circumstance of life. One person, regardless of their social status, is not in any way more qualified than another to discuss learning. While there is an extensive array of expertise associated with the educational or training experience, there is no one individual or group of people that can claim professional expertise with respect to learning. Learning remains mysterious, and this mystery is to be embraced...

Learning is an Unavoidable Experience

Learning is unavoidable in all human experience. This means that learning is, by default, a phenomenon in which no one individual, tribe, society or nation can claim superiority. By this I mean that learning is a fundamental interface with the confluence of everyday life, regardless of a person's status or location. And, to be sure, it is both arrogant and egotistical to propose that one group of people have in some way a better grasp or understanding of learning than another.

Ideas about learning are malleable and take on many shapes and forms. Sometimes we stylize ways of learning in order to provide them with an appealing fashion. For example, "lifelong learning" is a phrase that seems to point out a kind of bold new horizon when in fact the adjective lifelong is redundant with respect to learning. How could learning be anything else other than lifelong? The phrase "lifelong learning" is really a kind of cultural artifact that attempts to retrieve a fundamental idea that has been forgotten. At its core, lifelong learning is largely a political spin on learning that is designed to help people adjust to our obsession with economic materialism.

The Darker Side of Learning

Learning embraces evil as much as it does good. But the darker and more mercurial side of learning is a perspective we often attempt to ignore. This is, of course, what the spirit of malevolence encourages us to do, that is, pretend that it isn't there. Our attention to learning is often placeed on comfortable and controlled methods and processes we often experience in education and training environments.

A broad perspective on learning cannot ignore the malevolence in our world. It is only obvious to say that evil, like good, has power, authority and influence in the affairs of humankind. This means that the horrific concentration camps of Auschwitz are as much a learning environment as are the relatively safe and sterilized learning environments we find in industrialized educational and training systems. Connecting the word "learning" to the horrific may seem somewhat unusual, but at the same time learning is just as vibrant in a concentration camp as it is a classroom. In this example, the concentration camp is the classroom.

Elevating the Status of Learning

One of the problems we face with an investigation of learning is to first separate it and isolate it from more commonplace and inferior ideas such as education and training. This is not to say that there is no connection between them, however, it is to say that learning is something more complex. The three words learning, education and training are not merely interchangeable nor are they equal in status. Education and training are obviously important cultural directives, but they are ideas decidedly less in breadth and depth than learning. Learning, by default, belongs to humanity; education and training are technological artifacts of culture and do not share the same universal character.

What is the Evidence of Learning

Where do we find learning? How can we identify it? What are its sources of power? Why is it fundamentally important to all of humankind? There is no one unified universal definition of learning that we can subscribe to. The multiplicity of learning cannot be confined to mere dictionary definition, nor would we desire this. It has a mythic energy to it that embraces the mystery of life.

It seems that our educational and corporate training departments go about their business under the delusion that they possess superior knowledge of learning and how it should occur. This belief retrieves the image of a snake-oil salesman selling his wares to the unwary bystander. While the word learning is often used to describe the various methods and processes of the educational or training experience, even a brief glance at the underlying assumptions of education or training reveals an obsession with curricular and instructional methodologies that are far removed from learning in everyday life. They turn life into abstract theories and concepts to be retained and applied all the while ignoring the mystery of each inidvidual life. It seems that the higher education goes, the lower learning becomes.

In other words, resilient and durable forms of learning are largely absent in our institutions. Ask an individual how they learned the things they value the most life and in my experience not a single person has referred to their education or training.

Resilience and Learning

Resilience is essential to learning. If a person is characterized as being resilient, then we assume they must in some manner have the capacity to face the confluence of everyday life, good and evil, with authority and perhaps even courage. In mythological terms this would be referred to as the hero's journey since a hero cannot function without resilience. The hero's journey has a vital role to play in everyone's life and is not something limited to cultural fascinations. Simply stated, every one of us is on a hero's journey whether we recognize it or not, and this journey is an underlying ground for learning. Each of lives and the experiences we have in them is an emerging process and a living design for learning.

A learning environment embraces our private thoughts and feelings as much as it does our public actions and behaviors. The question of how to live a life worth living while being fully present and giving in the world is a fundamental question for every person. At times it seems as if the world has complete control over us to ill effect; at other times it seems as if we may in fact impose our own controlling tendencies on others to ill effect. Finding ways of realizing our inner drive in life, our suol's quest, in harmony with the confluence of our surrounding circumstances and situations is an important frontier for resilience.

Ignorance and want can be powerful forces of distraction. By this I mean that trite notions of resilience may too often refer to ways of conforming to the role that society demands all too often at the expense of our inner passion for life itself. The most dire example of this is the individual who late in life or even approaching death realizes that they have not embraced life they way they should have and is filled with regret and unhappiness. And we experience loss in its most intense form. We often see highly successful people in public life (if we wish to mistakenly measure success by social status and wealth) feeling largely unhappy and even immersed in a depressive state. Eventually, and mercilessly, our inner self - our soul - will demand attention, and when it does it will do so with a sense of power, authority, and influence that can be overwhelming.

Narrative as the Underlying Ground for Learning

We can best explore the multiplicity of learning by bringing ourselves into close proximity to the stories of people's lives that in some manner inform our own. This notion seems strikingly obvious and deceptively simplistic. I do not mean that we focus our intention on mere biography or developing the ability to mentally recall the facts associated with the lives of those we consider to be famous in some way. One problem with our idea of story is that it easily denigrates into armchair entertainment. Often, stories of people's lives come to us via print media and even the most literate among us struggle to connect and actualize the essence of inspiring lives into our own. In other words, we can recall a story in great detail yet not be influenced by it in any significant way. Stories too often remain in the mind and are confined to an act of memory.

From another perspective, the story of one person's life can be a powerful force for fundamental and permanent change in another person's life. These stories are the living "curriculum," if you will, of learning. They are imbued with a sense of reality and mystery that, when read with an open spirit, can cause us to re-think and re-act in our own lives.

Theme: Culture & Community | (Jun17/05) | Home | About | References | Site Index | Other Features | feed2.png |

Bookmark: | Connotea | Delicious | Digg | Furl | Y! MyWeb |


Recent Entries

Note: Comments on all entries are closed after two weeks to prevent comment spam. You can e-mail your comment on any entry to . Please be sure to specify which entry your comment references. I will also consider suggestions for future entries. Your feedback is welcome.

Jill Fallon on Learning: A Global Phenomenon | 20.07.05 | Comment Permalink


This is a great post. One that I bookmarked earlier so I could come back to reread it again. You have made a most subtle distinction between education and learning that I've never heard before, that makes perfect sense and that resonates deeply

Theme: Culture & Community | (Jun17/05) | Home | About | References | Site Index | Other Features | feed2.png |

Copyright: Creative Commons 2.5