What is learning? Part 2

Dale Chihuly sculpture, Milwaukee Art Museum

My own theory of learning is called relationalism.

Relationalism draws a picture of learning as simultaneously personal and social.  People grow neural configurations, and groups evolve their networks, when they attend to and interact with human and non-human agents,  in complex socio-cultural and environmental contexts.

This is a bit like the constructivistsTed Panitz, for example, suggests that learners create knowledge as they collaboratively and cooperatively work to understand their experiences in nature, in society and culture, growing their own meanings.

Relationalism is similar to the learning theory of connectivism, which situates learning in the creation of network connections.  I am not even going to try to summarize the tenets of connectivism here, except to retiterate George Siemens‘ statement that “Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories.”

Relationalism extends connectivism by:

  • being more rigorous in the definition of connections, through the development of a taxonomy of learning interactions between agents in a learning network
  • emphasizing the radical responsibility of learners for their own learning
  • understanding that learners are part of larger groups which exhibit different levels of engagement between agents. These larger groups are variously described as communities of inquiry, learning communities , community of learners, classroom community, communities of practice, group, network and collective.
  • understanding that a dependency for learning is the creation of a safe container, to create a trustworthy environment, where engaged people feel free to generate shared narrative, and play with new ideas and ways of being.
  • understanding that nothing but sheer love drives a kid to interact with the same toy over and over again. This behavior was well described by C. J. Jung, who said, “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”

One thought on “What is learning? Part 2

  1. Pingback: What is learning? Part 3 « OneMind

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