Shared Values and Beliefs
Learning is a complex activity that transforms the lives of individuals and communities. Learning happens when information and understanding are integrated.
Learning is informal as well as formal; intentional and conscious as well as unintentional and unconscious; social, emotional, moral, and practical as well as academic; and informed by process as well as content. It takes place in a wide range of family and community settings.
- Learning takes place from the earliest stages of life to the end of life (from gleam to grave).
- Effective learning reflects the individual’s natural tendency to learn and individuals’ tendency to learn in different ways to attain relevant standards (e.g., objectives, outcomes). It also takes account of the individual’s personal context: ability, level of opportunity and advantage, situation and setting.
- A healthy learning environment emphasizes and constantly expands the capacity of each individual and the collective. Early learning and equitable access to achieving high standards and reasonable outcomes are part of a healthy learning environment.
- Learning is most effective in an environment where challenge is high, but threat is low. Conflict can be an effective impetus for learning.
- A key goal of effective learning is the development of effective citizens: committed to their communities; engaged in productive work; responsible for their ongoing learning; active in advancing equity and the public good.
II. Learning Communities
- Learning communities are “communities that use all their resources – physical and intellectual; formal and informal; in school and outside of school, within an agenda that recognizes every individual’s potential to grow and be involved with others.” (from the 21st Century Learning Initiative’s Synthesis document). In learning communities, the entire community is a place of learning, and responsibility for learning is shared.
- Learning is a social and civic activity.
- There are many different kinds of communities (e.g., geographical, family, professional, virtual, et al.) engaged in learning activity. Every place can be a place of learning.
- Different communities will define different learning solutions. Diversity of perspective is critically important and can be a strength.
- Learning communities continuously experiment, experience and expand their capacity for risk. Every failure is considered an opportunity for further learning. This standard can be a special challenge for formal, public-sector learning organizations.
- Learning communities hold standards constant across arbitrary time lines.
- The success of learning communities may be measured, in part, by how well they are able to build and sustain trust, to handle conflict among their members, and to address diversity and conflict accordingly.
- Change in the learning environment in Canada is a long-term commitment, transcending particular governments (i.e., non-partisan), sectors, projects, or programs and must be based on research and documented principles of effective learning.
- For the long term the goal should be to achieve attitudinal, rather than merely structural, change in approaches to learning. The current educational system has achieved the mandate it was given – the mandate has now been changed, and so the paradigm must change.
- To be effective, the process of change needs to be widely inclusive of people and groups across Canada. It must engage people’s energies and ideas.
- From inception, effective change initiatives consider how to sustain their benefits for the long-term, and how to work collaboratively rather than in isolation.
- The focus of collective work on changing the learning environment in Canada should be on the public interest rather than special interests, and on the collective good as well as the individual good.
- Ongoing assessment is an essential component of programs for change. Goals should be clearly set, data collected, and results shared publicly.
- Change must start before formal education, with families and communities, which must provide a supportive learning environment for children and adults.
- As the economy grows, the wealth of flexible learning options must also expand and be shared as a social imperative.