by Stewart Hase, Heutagogy of Community Practice
Writing is always a learning experience for me.
Writing forces greater clarity. In addition, the tranquility of the unique Australian bush setting in which I am currently sitting, miles from anywhere, provides a perfect environment for learning. My book, ‘A Practical Guide to Self-Determined Learning: Experiences from the Field’ is an edited work where people share their experiences of using heutagogy in a variety of contexts.
Ideally, heutagogy should be fun and, hopefully, useful to people wanting to try something a bit different in their ‘classrooms.’ I got so excited while writing the chapter that I thought I’d share some of its content with you. In this day and age there is no need to be patient, which suits me, as patience is not a strong point. And I might get some comments back to help me refine the chapter before it goes to air.
A number of insightful writers have suggested the skills that people need in order to cope with the 21st-century. One of my favourites that appears to summarise all of them is from Jackie Gerstein who has put together a neat pictorial of these skills. See also Tony Wanger’s work, which Jackie acknowledges.
The skills she has identified are: effective oral and written communication; collaboration across networks; agility and adaptability; grit; resilience; empathy and global stewardship; vision; self-regulation; hope and optimism; curiosity and imagination; initiative and entrepreneurialism; and critical thinking and problem solving.
Some of the implications of self-determined learning are:
- involve the learner in designing their own learning content and process as a partner;
- make the curriculum process flexible so that new questions and understanding can be explored as new neuronal pathways are explored;
- individualise learning as much as possible;
- use social media to network learners;
- provide flexible or negotiated assessment;
- enable the learner to contextualise concepts, knowledge and new understanding;
- provide lots of resources and enable the learner to explore essential content;
- experiment and research;
- base practice on the latest science;
- engage learners in collaborative learning;
- differentiate between knowledge and skill acquisition (competencies) and deep learning;
- recognise the importance of informal learning and that we only need to enable it rather than control it;
- have confidence in the learner;
- be on top of the subject area so you can be a resource;
- and recognise that teaching can become a block to learning.
So, what of the skills needed by learning leaders, given the abilities we should foster in our learners and the rather more learner-centric approach prescribed by self-determined learning?
At the outset, I think we need to get rid of the terms teach and teacher from our lexicon and start talking about the ‘learning leader’. It immediately changes the focus from teacher-centred to learner-centred approaches. So, I think what we used to call teaching is really leadership and the broad abilities are similar whether or not you are leading students or leading people in an organisation.
4 Characteristics Of Learning Leaders
1. Ability to deal with ambiguity
- Low need for control
- Openness to Experience (one of the Big 5 personality traits)
- Moderate perfectionism
- High Stability (low anxiety)
- Project management skills
- Ability to use social media
2. The capacity to foster engagement
- An understanding of how to motivate others
- Ability to foster a shared purpose and vision
- An understanding of human needs
- Interpersonal effectiveness
- Ability to self-regulate
3. The capacity to learn
- Ability to research and learn
- Being thoroughly on top of one’s subject area
- Wide and accessible networks
- Able to share with others
- Knowledge management skills
- The ability to foster collaborative learning
4. The ability to use open systems thinking
- The capacity to scan the external environment
- Able to foster participative democracy/collaboration decision-making and process
- Able to actively diffuse power
- Capacity to work in a team
- Ongoing internal and external analysis of effectiveness (continuous improvement)
Source: heutagogycop.wordpress.com; 4 Characteristics Of A Learning Leader