There’s been a shift in my conception of reflection, communication and its role in learning. Rather than reflection and learning being “for me” it’s “for...others, a purpose or principle greater and other than oneself”. This shift has implications for everything about reflection, communicatino and learning: the why, what, where, when, how and who for are all now different.
One moment in which this shift occurred was when I opened a new digital journal entry to summarise the past week’s learning.
Perhaps you can do the same experiment? Right now, write down, what were the most significant insights or learnings from the last seven days?
In my case, in that moment I couldn’t immediately recall anything in particular. When I reviewed explicitly my calendar, daily entries and other notes, there were several significant (potentially life-changing) moments, insights and ‘learning’.
I thought this was funny. I remember at the time they seemed SO significant. Yet, being unable to later recall them, could they actually be called learning?
It’s a bit like asking someone what exactly they ate 6 days ago for lunch, and if their inability to recall it casting doubt on whether they have actually been eating and if not, what else was more important to displace that from their priorities, and how on earth are they surviving?
Further related questions came up, at that time:
- Could it be lack of skill, under-developed habits or unconscious resistance that mean significant insights aren’t integrated?
- Is the learning sought memorisation of the experience, or becoming differently as a result of them?
- If I didn’t learn that lesson that day, on how many more days may I repeat the mistake or not apply the learning?
- Is it just me, or is this inability common, with significant consequences for our collective ability to learn?
- Is this inability, repeatedly problematic?
Contemplating these questions and the gap between past experience and present recollection or embodiment, what became really compelling was this:
Dropping the concern about the consequences for me, and instead what may be the consequences for others and all.
Becoming better at integrating learning ‘for me’ (my benefit) seems like a nice-to-have, and from past experience not sufficiently consequential. The cost and benefit to and for others, seem very, very consequential. Consider: all the time spent, lessons having to be repeated, mistakes remade, flow-on effects.... Suddenly rather than a personal aspiration, enabling better learning becomes a matter of systemic desperation.
What becomes compelling as an alternative proposition to learning better ‘for me’ is to instead learn better and in and as a dedication i.e. “for...
- others whom have shared their (life’s) learning with me,
- others who may learn from me,
- the context (professional practice, personal relationship, community, cause, field, nation) in which the learning is of benefit, and
- the principle or practice itself and how it may be propagated for others benefit.
For if I can not embody, communicate, enact shifts in behaviour here, now, immediately (or at least when timely and appropriately) then how could I expect that of anyone else, or of us all, or humanity?
Feeling pushed and pulled to learn, embody, enact and enable learning for others, is far more compelling. It’s also a completely different question and focus of attention. Rather than all ‘learning’ being centred on what it is for me, it becomes a real inquiry about the what, where
If the learning was how to be a more effective consultant, a more kind friend, more honest and engaged citizen, more contributive human then is that learning ‘mine’ or ‘for me’? It’s not for ‘everyone’ rather, likely, relevant to specific others or institutions at very specific moments, faced with specific questions.
Rather than simply advancing an individual, good learning would be for anyone approaching the same time or context. Rather than in a private journal, it would best be made available and presented in a way that’s timely and appropriately, so they and we all can advance effortlessly.
The feeling in seeing this possibility is of being invited, overwhelming into improving my learning, and humility in recognising every past moment of potential learning ignored. Everything culture, history, institutions, friends, family, teachers and colleagues have carefully and deliberately presented...and that have been ignored obliviously. Such that we all end up having to move forward more slowly.
Hence, now, this effort at communicating.
For if anyone else should wonder:
- What’s the purpose of a person journal or reflection?
- What should one consider in enabling better learning?
- What the benefit of anyone blogging?
Then perhaps they may stumble across this. And, if this is communicated coherently, they may get it and become and behave differently, easily, immediately.