‘Learning’ is probably a more visceral, and less refined experience than we care to believe is true: a lurching series of beliefs, rationalised in retrospect, validated in our preconceptions and bias. Very little learning happens in isolation of context: either the motivation for it’s occurrence, or the pollution of it’s application. We often retreat to analogies of ‘exploration’, journeys into new knowledge, as if learning occurs in a landscape, a preconceived and heavily weathered region that is just waiting for us to discover it. But the truth is somewhat different: this is a land shaped by our observation. The paths we tread weather the mountains and tame the wilderness. Learning is not a process of passive uptake of knowledge: it’s a process of realising, and in many ways creating, that landscape around us.
Additive views of learning are comforting, built upon our intuitive understanding of Lego, and the appeal of order. A sense of towers of intellect, built from the bricks of knowledge and mortar of comprehension. But almost certainly follies: flights of fancy, pillars of the imagination.
Learning may be more a series of projections, anticipated spaces that we rationalise into existence: we visualise a future state of enlightenment, curate and collect ideas, forge understanding, hammer the facts to our advantage, and consider ourselves cured of ignorance.
I don’t believe you can fully anticipate what will be learned in any given context, nor can you unlearn what has been committed to your truth. All we can truly do is to guide the journey, to provide the best tools of navigation, and to ensure we have in place the plans to mount a rescue when all is lost.
In some real way, these should be our guidelines, our principles adopted for learning in any context: not a question of how we hammer the truth into ignorant bliss, but rather how we shape spaces and opportunities to learn. Our role, to shape that space, to guide, to rescue, and to listen.