Learning for Life

The ice finally went out on the lake yesterday. After a blizzard last week and too many months of too-cold-to-stand, we are finally into spring—maybe. A loon this morning, the great blue heron all week, the squirrels, and wood ducks are all moving into a new season, and I’m ready to go with them. They play and forage, explore and discover, rest and run.  While all this activity was outside my window, I turned to the forum discussions of the learners in the current HSDP certification cohort. They, too, were delighting in a season of growth and new life.

The parallel got me thinking about the experience of these learners. Why are they so energized by this learning? How can they continue this experience for the rest of their lives? How can you experience the same kind of learning regardless of who or where you are? These six simple rules for generative learning catch the pattern.  

Focus on today’s authentic challenges. You hardly have time to do what has to be done, so how can you possibly dedicate time for learning?  Use the challenges you face today as opportunities to expand your capacity and prepare for challenges of the future. Our network of HSDP learners engage in Adaptive Action Experiments to practice what they’re learning in the laboratory of life, then they share their discoveries with a small Learning Group.    

Share your confusions and discoveries. None of us learns in a vacuum. You live and work in a community, and you can learn in community, too. Your questions spark insights and opportunities for others.  Your discoveries challenge or inspire others to expand their learning. Virtual and face-to-face dialogues allow HSDP learners to exchange  insights and curiosities to accelerate the learning of all.     

Use what you know to frame questions—not answers. You may enjoy sharing what you know, and that isn’t bad. It may or may not help others, but it does not move you forward. Use what you know to move into your next curiosity. Your next question will certainly move your learning forward, and chances are it will be more useful to others, too. In the HSDP cohort, we challenge ourselves and each other to find the limits of what we know and to stretch into new learning.   

Bounce between theory and practice—testing each against the other. Generative learning focuses on what is true and useful. You encounter challenges in understanding when you think; and you encounter challenges in practice when you act. Both kinds of challenge move you forward in your learning, and the tensions between thinking and doing move you forward even faster. In HSD, we call this praxis, when practice and theory work hand-in-hand.  In fact, our Adaptive Action process leads us to praxis in every moment.    

Find the language that works for you. Learning connects you and your internal life with the world “out there.”  When you communicate your learning you contribute to others’ insights, but you also provide feedback to yourself, so you can see and challenge yourself along your learning journey. Use whatever method works for you—poetry, song, painting, prose—to make your learning manifest in the world. As an HSDP cohort, we learn together for three intense days, then our learning continues for four months in online engagement. Both face-to-face and virtually, we learn and share our learning in many different ways. 

Draw challenge and support from near and distant neighbors. Not all learning relationships are created equal.  Sometimes you want to engage with someone who knows you and your situation well. With them you can go deep and share your evolution over time. Your nearest network neighbors share this intimate learning with you. Sometimes, you want to test your insights against many different perspectives or to cast a wide net for new ways to see and understand. Distant network neighbors support this kind of learning. The HSD Network provides opportunities for close personal and professional relationships as well as a large, diverse community to support exploration and surprise. In October 2014, we will bring distant neighbors together for the first time at our first HSD Conference. 

You may see and understand these principles in theory, but how do you take them into practice?  Adaptive Action, of course.  Download our Learning for Life poster to find questions to help you focus on your own authentic challenges today. Then, engage with the HSD Network and embrace the opportunities in a new season of light and life. 

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