The Learning Dojo

“We are now at a historical transition in which it is crucial that learning be placed in the context of action, as a way of being in the world, instead of being simply intellectually smart.”

leadership-dojo.jpg

I am in the midst of reading Richard Strozzi-Heckler’s excellent new book, “The Leadership Dojo”. In it he puts forth a compelling case for public education to expand its view of learning. Richard recounts studying Aikido in Japan and speaking with a fellow student from New Guinea who says,

“In my country we say that knowledge is only a rumor until it is in the muscle.”

Richard goes on,

“Leadership (and learning) is about taking skilful action, producing results and mobilizing others, not simply acquiring academic knowledge. We learn through our bodies, through recurrent practices, and learning means being able to take new actions. Leadership is a learnable skill.

Trained in the rationalistic tradition where we are predisposed to think of learning as something that happens in the mind; the idea that we learn through our bodies is startling at first. We can see the influence of rationalism in our formal education when we recall sitting at our desks, reading books, listening to lectures, and reviewing case studies and theories. The body was simply the delivery system that transported us to the classroom and then remained in the background as we absorbed information. This person, we would say, is smart, because he or she can prove what they say is true. While this is one interpretation of learning, there is another that has been widely neglected because of the authority of the rationalistic approach. There has been, for example, little recognition given to someone who could produce value through the way they manage mood, how they skillfully coordinate with others to achieve a desired goal, or their ability to ignite the passion and purpose of others.”

Later Richard points out,

“We are now at a historical transition in which it is crucial that learning be placed in the context of action, as a way of being in the world, instead of being simply intellectually smart.”

As we look at new models for educating our children, we would do well to expand our definition of learning from accumulating information, to being able to do something with that information; to be able to take new actions. Reform models that overlook this exciting and emerging definition of learning, may find themselves simply repackaging what they seek to transform.

pete

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3 thoughts on “The Learning Dojo

  1. Hey Peter:

    This phrase caught my attention and thoughts. I remember the TLI with your mentor many years ago…

    “there is another that has been widely neglected because of the authority of the rationalistic approach. There has been, for example, little recognition given to someone who could produce value through the way they manage mood, how they skillfully coordinate with others to achieve a desired goal, or their ability to ignite the passion and purpose of others.”

    Sounds a little like emotional intelligence, but what do I know. Certainly sounds like a school Principal.

    I wanted to share a name and address with you and everyone. His name is Don Mesibov and he is part of a Constructivist group here in NYS. Unfortunately I missed their last conference in Niagra Falls last summer. I have included his e-mail address, thus their newsletter. Constructivism seems to be a thread to some of your discussions and I wanted to put this out.

    Hope you and everyone associated with your blog is enjoying the sharing of ideas, so easily and quickly. I am reading Isaacson’s new biography on Einstein and it is amazing how long it took him to meet his greatest mentors and supporters in the realm of theoretical physics in the early 20th century. Look at us…

    dmesibov@twcny.rr.com.

  2. Lou,
    We are on the same wavelength about Don Mesibov. Check out a post from a few weeks ago…

    https://preilly.wordpress.com/2007/09/23/few-school-align-learning-theory-with-classroom-practice/

    Learning through the body is a discourse that has been around for millenia and got lost (at least in the West) in the rationalism of the Industrial Revolution. It is re-emerging now, and it has particular importance for k-12 education.

    I will be writing more about it in future posts.

    pete

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