A very short post to comment a quote from Robert Kegan in Contemporary Theories of Learning, Editor Knud Illeris, Routeledge, 2008 :
Adult educators with an interest in transformational learning may need a better understanding of their students’ current epistemologies so as not to create learning designs that unwittingly presuppose the very capacity in the students their designs might seek to promote.
It may surprise you, but this quote came to me as a big insight. For several years now, I have been trying to introduce self-managed learning practices in organizations. I have always noticed a huge difficulty for people to engage in such an approach because it is so different from all what they may have experimented as learning methods before.
So what does this mean practically. What we “seek to promote” in self-managed team learning is a way of learning that is at the same time very personal and reflective (individual learning contracts, for example), but also based on social interaction (learning sets, for example). Both of these attitudes are different from “current epistemologies” :
- At school, but also in organizations, people are not asked to go too deep into self inquiry. What prevail – even in high level education or corporate training – are tools, methods and recipes.
- Most of the time, people think about learning as if it was a solitary activity (if not a solitary pleasure…). Evaluation systems and their link to compensation systems in corporation do rarely make space for team learning and team preformance.
Thus, if we want to promote self-managed team learning, we need to start with (and pay attention to) activities and practice that satisfy these habits or mental models (“epistemologies”) such as formal explanation of immediately useful tools and rewards for individual efforts.
Maybe this sounds very obvious to you… For me, it has implied many years and a few rather difficult experiences to understand. But as Johannes Partanen, the founder of Team Academy says : Learning is always slower than what we believe.