Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. ― Mahatma Gandhi
Learning is far more than an accumulation of knowledge and information. The most effective learning is that which is not treated as something separate from our lives, it is basically what we learn along the way if we remain open to doing so. We all know “the school of hard knocks”, “practice makes perfect”, “lifelong learning”, all of which remind us that learning is on-going process. Sometimes this learning is intentional, sometimes not, but it is most effectively absorbed when experienced. We learn best through direct, participatory involvement in whatever it is we wish to better understand.
Not hearing is not as good as hearing, hearing is not as good as seeing, seeing is not as good as knowing, knowing is not as good as acting; true learning continues until it is put into action. ― Master Xun (Xunzi) over 2300 years ago
We also do not learn only with our minds. Immersive learning must also involve our heart to generate the will to apply what we understand in a continual cycle of discovery. What you learn is constantly filtered through your entire being. Someone may tell you something in an authoritative manner and for some reason it just does not feel right. This is our gut speaking; our repressed animal instincts simmering beneath the surface. This is why political discussions often turn emotional. They touch on some of our most primitive nerves. Those nerves are only slightly less refined than our intuition which combines these instincts with our emotional centers to form a feeling or an impression beyond rational thought. Our learning needs to be generative to our emotional and intellectual understanding in order to clearly inform our actions. In order to believe that we know something, it has to feel right to us, grounded in our own experience.
All learning has an emotional base. ― Plato
An expert is often someone afraid of being seen as not knowing the answers. Consultants in particular are hired for what they know, not necessarily for how they think. So not knowing the answer can be viewed as a weakness and a failure. Or maybe it is an opportunity? I was taking a class several years ago and the instructor was asked a question. He began to answer the question the best he knew how. He went on for quite a while trying to explain his understanding of the issue in question. Some of his response started to loop back on itself and become repetitive. After his rather lengthy reply he thoughtfully paused and said, “you know, I think I already told you more than I know”. Quite often it is within the not knowing that we learn best. We encourage ourselves and others to free themselves of having to know “the answers” so we can begin to pose the right questions. Always question the assumptions.
The greatest enemy of learning is knowing. ― John Maxwell
Learning is often best served in community with others. Collectively we always know and understand more than any of us alone. While other modes of individual learning can lead to awareness, it is often the shared experience that enriches the depths of our understanding. We need sounding boards, those who reflect what they hear back to you to test its usefulness. We need to actively participate in the learning experience, not as teacher/student, but as co-learners with an open willingness to assimilate from each other. The best teachers are those who learn from their students, for they realize how little they actually know.
In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn. ― Phil Collins
These are some of the principles that guide our own learning and the experiences we desire to share with others.
Our video work continues to tell stories which inform and inspire. We have also taught our fair share of webinars, seminars and workshops over the years, and there is a place for this type of learning. These modes of learning are almost, by their very nature, limited to learning about things which are mostly spoken, separated into intellectual categories. However, as our interest in regeneration has evolved, we have found that teaching someone, by telling them what we think we know, is just not nearly as affective as involving them in what we, and hopefully they, care about most. We are interested in modes of learning based on frameworks of thinking that expose and expand on our capacity to ask new questions and rediscoveries, to think systemically and holistically, and re-member humanity’s role in the council of beings on our shared planet.
Our educational offerings are expanding to include opportunities for people to participate directly in the work that we do, like charrettes and planning workshops. There is also so much that we seek to learn ourselves. There are whole worlds of understanding that are needed to inform the work that we do. How can we meet human needs while creating a world in which all life thrives? How do we affect the change that we seek? How can we shift our thinking about what we purport to know? What are the underlying assumptions within the context of our cultural conditioning? What can we learn from other cultures and ways of knowing? How can we help to create a new story?
Last fall, we formally launched a series of learning opportunities with our friends at Spillian, a retreat center in the Catskills. We envision an on-going series of regenerative learning opportunities, which we have labeled HumanNature conversations. The first in the series was a retreat with author and geophilosopher David Abram called Our Story: HumanNature. In the spring of 2018, we will be offering a two-part session called Seeing Nature’s Mind – Regenerating Place. The first part combines the perspectives of traditional tracking (pattern reading), living systems thinking (pattern thinking) and regenerative design (pattern design), so we can relearn to see with Nature’s mind and design as essential members of this living world. The second part is an immersion in our work as we continue our efforts to apply regenerative design principles in the master planning of Spillian’s 33 acre estate.
We invite you to come along with 7group as we seek to transform your learning. Visit our latest Your Learning web page for more information and examples of our work.
We will be unveiling, over the next couple of months, the specific areas where we can help you to seek the “difference that makes a difference” in the words of Gregory Bateson. Our fondest desire is to help you to manifest the life affirming change you wish to see in the world. Visit sevengroup.com.
What do you seek to transform?