Liveblogged from the TCC 2009 conference. My comments in italics.
Presenter: Scott Robinson, Kaplan University
Posted summary: This presentation uses principles of Taoism to emphasize the role of the facilitator. The presentation also shows how these principles complement the following adult education theories: constructivism, andragogy, cognitive economy, and asynchronous learning.
This is definitely a different topic than the typical conference fare. A Methodist pastor from Texas presenting on Taoism is not exactly typical either!
Tao = Way
Taoism: Eastern philosophy on the how and why of nature
Ying & Yang: What does it mean?
In the West, we are very dualistic–cosmic struggle of good and evil. Ying & Yang has a little light in the darkness and darkness in the light; natural balance. “Taoism promotes balance through an understanding of the flow of energy within nature.”
Facilitate = Make Easier
Can we find a natural balance between easy and hard? Students and educators see these as polar opposites.
- “Facilitators direct the flow of energy.”
- “Positive facilitation directs the energy to make learning easier.”
Ch’i = energy, breath, life force, basic building block of life
Chat comment: Marla Cartwright [remote]: learning can be a flow of energy when it’s ciruclar, flowing from instructor to student and back again
How does energy flow within the learning environment? Discussion, chat. Sometimes the flow is too fast to internalize.
Wu-Wei = “actionless action” or non-action. Western idea of non-action is couch potato, passive, or lazy. Wu-wei is not doing nothing; it’s trusting the flow of energy and going with it rather than trying to control it.
Thinking about big networks and learning–you can’t control it, you can just go along with it–fighting against the network and the trend towards connection and transparency isn’t a good use of effor
Wu-wei: think about escaping a riptide by not fighting it or driving in the direction of a skid on ice
When students disrupt or are on the wrong track, we don’t like to swim parallel to them and nudge them; we want to stop them and fight the flow. What if we are present and can learn together with them? Seems especially relevant for complex and emerging topics
Instructors often serve as judges in the classroom-they evaluate student work. This is a requirement of the job; they can’t get away from it. But it can make them arrogant.
Practice non-judgment: suspending judgment to create space for ch’i
Non-judgment != no judgment; it’s giving space to ponder and reflect in a respectful environment
Stereotypical images of a professor:
- they have all the answers
- attached to the answers
- attached to authority
- sage on the stage
- lectures at
- white men
Detachment: “releasing one’s personal attachment to the outcome”–get the facilitator’s ego out of the center of the learning. The idea is the center of the learning, not the instructor.
The Tao and Constructivism: Use the energy in the life experiences of adult learners, learning as meaning-making
The Tao and Andragogy: Energy generated by students, not instructors. Use what adult learners bring to the table.
The Tao and Asynchronous Learning: Keep the energy flowing 24/7; use diverse energy sources at different times and rates.
The Tao and Cognitive Economy:
- “Cognitive Economy = adult learning invest in an education based on their return on their investment”
- Reward learning to create positive energy
Make learning easier by
- Recognize ch’i in every student and class
- Suspend need to judge everything–look at each contribution to see how it can build learning
- Allow students to fuel the learning
- Build from students’ experiences
- Feed students’ hunger for learning
Q: How do you reward learning? Praise?
A: Learning is rewarding in itself, so create an environment where learning is easy and the aha moments can happen
Interesting ideas. How do you implement this as an instructional designer? I can see this for facilitators in discussion forums etc., but I’m struggling a bit to see how to create a learning environment that makes it easier for facilitators to get out of the way of learning. Need more time to reflect. Maybe more for me personally in terms of helping facilitators learn new tools etc, empowering them to learn and explore on their own?
Image: ‘Ying Yang‘