Category Archives: Books – Adult Learning

Book | Engaging Technology in Theological Education

jpegHess, Mary E. Engaging Technology in Theological Education: All That We Can’t Leave Behind Communication, Culture, and Religion Series. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005.

Dr. Mary Hess is my thesis advisor and is passionate about re-imagining religious education. This book explores how theological education might look as we move further into the digital age. She believes that digital technology is helpful for us to break down the hierarchies and power-structures of the modern academy and move toward a more embodied, communicative pedagogy.

Below are links to my annotated pages”

Chapter One – Rich Treasures in Jars of Clay: Theological Education in  Changing Times

Chapter Two – Searching for the Blue Fairy: Questioning Technology and Pedagogy in Theological Education

Chapter Six – Embodied Padagogies: Engaging Racism in Theological Education and Digital Cultures

Book | The Practice of Communicative Theology by Scharer and Hilberath

communicative theologyScharer, Matthias Hilberath Bernd Jochen. The Practice Of Communicative Theology: Introduction To A New Theological Culture. New York: Crossroad Pub. CO. 2008.


The Authors — Matthias Scharer and Bernd Jochen Hilberath

My Reflections

Sharer and Hilberath are two German, Roman Catholic theologians who have adopted Ruth Cohn’s Theme-Centered Interaction (TCI) model as the means of doing theology. This pedagogy comes from a long history of Catholic theology and is rooted, most apparently, in Habermas’ communicative rationality. The combination of TCI and Habermas leads to their label: Communicative Theology.

This book is important for my research on two levels. First, it describes the process I used to facilitate the Research Team meetings during phase one of the project. The interesting fact is that I was not aware of this book when I led those meetings. The process I used was based Peter Block’s Community Building methodologies and my own experience in adult learning forums. Communicative Theology and TCI help give credence to my methodology and help me to articulate better its theological underpinnings.

The second reason this book is important to my research is that it connects the pedagogical methodology to the Trinity. My research question asks how an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity might impact the ideation and praxis of spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations. Communicative Theology and TCI demonstrate that a communicative methodology is constituted by the relationality of God. It is the image of the communicative God as revealed/demonstrated in the three persons of the Trinity. By using a communicative methodology I am organically and implicitly raising the research team’s awareness and understanding of the social/relational/entangled/communicative Trinity.

My Key Notes from the Book

Communicative Orientations in North American Catholic Theology


tradition of personalism. Dialogical Personalism.
Martin Buber and Gabriel Marcel = the significance of dialogue.
Neo-Orthodoxy of Karl Barth
Catholic rsourcement theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar
Joseph Ratzinger – traced dialogue to Plato and Artistotle
Avery Cardinal Dulles – combined these personalisms with symbolic and sacramental modes of communication in Catholic practice.


20th century interpreters of Thomas Aquinas–Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, and Bernard Lonergan.

“Lonergan identified communication as one of eight functional specialities that constitute the theological enterprise within the church: ‘Through communication there is constituted community and, conversely, community constitutes and perfects itself through communication.’ (Lonergan. Method in Theology (New York, 1972), 363)


Robert Schreiter–reflecting on liberation theologians in Latin America and inculturation theologians in Africa and Asia–analysis of concrete practices of communication in the development of local theologies.

semiotic approach to culture:

  • syntactics–the grammar-like rules that function in the relation of signs
  • semantics–the content or meaningn of the message
  • pragmatics–rules that govern communication in the range of meanings

Stephen Bevans.

“For dialogical personalism, the problem of misunderstanding is about overcoming obstacles and limits in knowing another individual and oneself. For the hermeneutical approach, individuals and groups must face recurring misunderstandings of texts and traditions. For these particular forms of contextual theology–Black, Hispanic, Asian, among others–misunderstanding is a question of prejudice against linguistic, cultural, and religious traditions, which contributes to economic and social hardship, and all too frequently results in conflict and violence.” (6)

Thomas H. Groome–drawing on Habermas’ work on theory and practice and Paulo Freire’s praxis-based pedagogy–advanced a “shared Christian praxis” approach to religious education and pastoral ministry.


Paul A. Soukop – six aspects of the communicative process:

  • language (a structured system of conveying meaning);
  • aesthetic experience;
  • creation of culture
  • interpersonal dialogue;
  • sender-receiver or rhetorical communication (the broadcast model);
  • theological analogue, that is, modeling human communication on the divine. (7)

Soukop is concerned that there has not been adequate investigation into the use of new communication technologies.

Outline of Book

  1. Theology as Process
  2. Preliminary Observations about the Communicative Characterr of Human Beings
  3. The “Battle of the Gods” as a Dilemma in a Communication-Conscious Society
  4. The Communicative God of Christian Revelation and God’s Communication in History
  5. The Church as a Community of Communication: The “We” as Gift.
  6. Communication as a Practice of Theological Awareness: The Perspective of TCI
  7. Keeping the Faith Tradition and Implicit “God-Talk” in Balance
  8. A Theme Takes Shape: Drama on the Eve of the Council of Nicea and Drama in the Church Today.

The Theological Question

“The theological question is: what do people associate with God and how do they do it? This way of stating the question calls attention to a pivotal theological insight: There is an inextricable connection between God (or better, what we know of God on the basis of revelation and the Christian tradition) and the actual lives of people. In theological knowing it is not only the what of the faith that counts. The what is inseparably linked to the way in which knowledge coming from God is received and transmitted. In short, it is linked with the how of God’s communication through past Christian tradition and in contemporary life histories.” (34)

Theology is communicative

“Theology is not ‘some thing’ that then is to be communicated; rather, communication is the central content of theology. So communication is neither a thing added or applied to theology nor a substitute for what theology should really be. Theology is itself a communicative event, and when it no longer is this it stops being theology. This thesis, certainly unusual and perhaps jarring to many, presupposs a particular understanding of communication on the one hand and of theology on the other.” (13)

The little gods and the Great God

“The image of the global village with its boundless communication takes on particularly religious connotations when the new media and the global market invade those areas of human life where faith and religion traditionally held sway. These are the areas of meaning and orientation, of history and the future, of right action and enduring happiness. Stopping to think about modern communication and its religious and ideological implications makes one aware of the degree to which the ‘little gods’ of boundless knowledge, global-communicative ability, and never-ending consumption are replacing the hope for the coming of the ‘great God.’ It is a battle between ‘gods’ who satisfy immediate needs and a God who ‘dries all tears’ (Revelation 21:4; cf. Isaiah 65:19). It is a confrontation between the boundless freedom promised to these globally connected in the communication network and the God who communicates God’s self to all people, especially to those excluded from the communication process, who calls all humankind to become one community in the freedom of the children of God. In this new world of global communication, the arguable monopoly of salvation formerly ascribed to the church appears to have been transferred to the media, so that the old adage ‘extra ecclesia nulla salus’ (there is not salvation outside the church) becomes ‘extra media nulla salus’ (there is no salvation outside the media). Such a world obviously needs to reflect on communication from the perspective of the biblical God and God’s communication with people. It is from this theological perspective that communicate theology enters critically into the (post) modern debate about communication, a debate that is growing in importance on the scientific, social, and religious levels.” (42-43)

God as communicative being

“If we look once again toward the God of whom theology speaks, we can further clarify the definition of God as a communicative being.” For the believer, God is a relational being. This is no human invention; rather, it is something made possible by God’s own revelation of God’s self. That is to say, God enters into a relationship with the world as creation and with people as created beings, as sinner and redeemed, and as beings on the way to perfection. Only in this way can we speak about God as relational. Even in Christian theology, we can make no statements about God in and for God’s self. This God in and for God’s self we can meet only as God for us. But we cannot draw the conclusion that God in and for God’s self does not exist. It is really a question of drawing a line to mark the limits of theological reflection and expression. With regard to the concept of communicative theology we can say: it is only because God enters into a relationship with us, because he wishes to be in communion with us and makes contact with us, that we can speak about and with God. We can also add further precision to our description by saying that God is the communicative being par excellence. It is first and foremost God who makes possible communication and community, which keeps us alive. This is our faith in God the creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. It is not, in the first place, God’s self-revelation in history that shows God to be the communicative being; this is already manifested by God’s self-revelation as creator.” (65)

My Reflection on this quote: I understand what they are saying, but I want to make one critique. They say that God is “a communicative being,” even further that God is “the communicative being par excellence.” If God is a being–even the being–then isn’t God just one being among many? Might it be more accurate to say that God is being itself and being is communicative, and this communicative being is the ground from which all being emerges. It is the relationality of the divine persons that is the constitutive, communicative being from which all life is created. This is similar to their statement “this is already manifested by God’s self-revelation as creator,” however, in the way that they speak of God as a being, it denotes the image of God as a being creating another being out of the nothing that is outside of God. Then this relational God chooses to relate to the creation.

I realize this is beyond the scope of the intention of this book, but I think it is an important distinction to hone our language to not limit God to a being. The relationality, thus the communicative nature of God is the being, the very fabric of existence from which all that we perceive as the created universe comes. God’s otherness is in the person of the creator, in that the creature is not the divine, thus allowing space for Buber’s I-Thou relationship. Yet, the relationality of the second and third person allows for the interdependency and communicative, on-going creative-redemptive-sustaining process to proceed. This is modeled in the TCI process.

The Paradigm



imageThe “I” as the individual person. This factor is aware of itself and truns to others and to the themed in a given group situation.

The “WE” as the group. This factor represents the relationship of individuals to one another and to the theme of their interaction.

The “IT” as a task or as a theme. This factor singles out the topical concerns to be worked out in the interaction.

The “GLOBE” as environment. This factor influences the group in their relationships and in their working together in both a narrower and in a broader sense.

Buber and Levinas

Martin Buber
describes the human person as a dialogical being. “Buber distinguishes between the ‘basic word’ “I-Thou” and “I-It” with regard to human encounters.” (30)

Levinas – The Importance of Other

The face of the other.

“in opposition to Buber, radicalizes the intersubjective perspective. For Levinas, the ‘face’ of tanother person is the key metaphor for the other. Radically trunign toward the face of the other makes the experience of transcendence ultimately possible. meeting the other is not donfined to an ‘I-Thou” relationship. When the ‘otherness’ of the other is seen, one’s own freedom is questioned. Qyestions of compassion, justice, and mercy also arise.” (31)

These two philosophies come together to demonstrate the communicative nature of human interaction. We do not choose to relate, we are constituted by relationship, yet, the separation of the other causes us to serve the other.

TCI described by the Universtät Innsbruck

The following section is copied from (accessed July 5, 2014)

From the Universität Innsbruck website:

Theme-Centered Interaction (TCI)

Created by Ruth Cohn, TCI is a strictly relational concept of human communication in groups and focuses on the balance between theme, group and individual work in order to work both on relationships and factual problems. This holistic tool of communication aims at stimulating the constructive and healing potential in a person, while being firmly rooted in a community-related conflict formation.

Cohn adopts a strictly relational approach to group communication and represents the balance between the factual and the relational elements in the form of a triangle:

the I as person, facing the theme and the others;

the we of the group members who become a group by facing the theme and by interacting with one another;

the it as a theme to be worked on by the group.

The triangle is surrounded by an area referred to as the Globe, which influences the work directly or indirectly.

Cohn (2004) developed three axioms, twopostulates, and nine auxiliary guidelines, which we explain shortly as follows:


Autonomy: Of an anthropological grain, the first axiom concerns both the independence and dependence (connectedness) as an existential component of being. For Cohn, the individual’s autonomy increases with his/her awareness of his/her connectedness to everyone and everything.

Appreciation: Of an ethical and social grain, the second axiom refers to the value that Cohn places on the human, whereas she finds the inhuman worthless. Cohn tried to call upon a balance between sensitivity and spirituality, feelings and knowledge, rationality and spirituality.

Expanding one’s limits: Of a pragmatic and political nature, the third axiom indicates that decisions can be made freely insofar as they are conditioned by internal and external limits. Conceived in a systemic way, this points to the awareness of universal interdependency as the foundation of human responsibility: “I am not omnipotent, I am not impotent, I am partially potent” (Cohn 2004, 205).

These three axioms give raise to two postulatesin relation to human paradox and conditional freedom:

Be your own chairperson: If you are aware of your internal disposition (I) and the external conditions (Globe) in a relational (We) or factual (Theme) conflict, you can take every situation as an invitation to decide on your own and act responsibly for yourself and others.

Disturbances have priority: In a system, nothing happens by pure chance. There is no division between inside and outside. Therefore, disturbances have to be dealt with priority, whether they come from the I, the We, the Theme or the Globe. Without the prior transformation of the disturbing energy, the flow of the system as a whole will be blocked, distracted or irritated.

Auxiliary guidelines

Authentic self-representation: express statements of fact with ‘I’, not ‘we’ or ‘one’, in order to avoid projecting and obscuring.

Meaningful questions: authentic requests for information can be identified by their personal and clear rationale.

Selective authenticity: it is important to determine if statements genuinely result from a personal value system, or whether they spring from an internalized sense of obligation created by social conventions.

Timely interpretation: interpretations have a content dimension and a temporal dimension. Interpretations that are incorrect or untimely have great potential for disruption and should only be admitted when dismissing them would create an even larger disruption.

No factual generalizations: they interrupt the flow of communication and distract from the specific subject at hand.

No personal evaluations: Only opinions of the other are possible, which have no claim to general validity. Cohn recommends refraining as much as possible from statements of evaluation.

Immediately address side discussions:they occur for a reason and they disrupt the process. Side discussions are indicative of a disruption in the group context. According to the second postulate, addressing disruptions must be prioritized in order to ensure smooth communication flow henceforth.

Only one person speaks at a time: It is necessary in order to ensure that everyone has a complete view of the group.

Clear rules for speaking: the group leader should ensure that there is a clear view of all conversation threads that exist in the group. In particular in cases of conflict it will be necessary to sort through them and to ensure that the most important ones are processed.

Drawing from Cohn, we could find in the guidelines orientation for the elicitive conflict worker to move to the fore the element of the I, We, It or Globe that is receiving less attention. In this manner, homeostasis can be re-established in the corresponding setting.

Book | Learning in Adulthood edited by Sharan Merriam

learning-in-adulthoodMerriam, Sharan B., Rosemary S. Caffarella and Lisa Baumgartner. Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide. 3rd ed. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007.

In this updated landmark book, the authors have gathered the seminal work and most current thinking on adult learning into one volume. Learning in Adulthoodaddresses a wide range of topics including: Who are adult learners? How do adults learn? Why are adults involved in learning activities? How does the social context shape the learning that adults are engaged in? How does aging affect learning ability?” – Book description from

My Notes

use this Prezi to visually move around my notes.

Part One: Adult Learning in Contemporary Society

Chapter One: The Social Context of Adult Learning

“historically there has always been an interlocking of adult learning needs with the social context in which they occur.” (6)

this chapter explores three conditions characteristic of the current sociocultural context that are shaping the learning needs of adults in today’s world…

Changing Demographics

There are more adults than non-adults

increasing number of older adults

rising level of education

rising number of high school drop-outs needing adult education

growing ethnic diversity “by 2050, minorities will account for nearly 50 percent of the overall population.” (10)


A Global economy

a shift to a service and information society

changes in the configuration of the labor force


more information at a faster pace

The Convergence of Demographics, Globalization, and Technology

“embedded in this convergence of demographics, economics, and technology is a value system based on the political and economic structure of capitalism.” (22)

It can serve as a mechanism for exclusion and control (24)

blurring the field’s content and delivery mechanisms (24)

“we may be witnessing the emergence of what has been called the learning society.” (25)



Chapter Two: Learning Environments and Learning Concepts

Where Learning Occurs

Formal and Nonformal Settings

formal = classroom and institutional learning

nonformal = community-based and indigenous learning

Informal Learning

most prevalent form

everyday learning

three forms: self-directed, incidental, socialization

Online Learning

positives – broader access and flexibility

negatives – “digital divide” between the haves and the have-nots.

myths of online learning: 1. inclusive and democratic. 2. accessible and flexible. 3. cost-effective. These are only true for the “haves”.

Organizational Learning and the Learning Organization

key points: individuals do the learning, theories-in-use vs. espoused theories, embedded in the images of the organization (43)

Peter Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

Learning Organization aka adaptive, resilient, innovative (45)

Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society




Chapter Three: Adult Learners: Who Participates and Why

Who Participates?

Johnstone and Rivera’s Landmark Study

National Studies of Formal Participation

Nonformal and Informal Participation

“the profile of the typical adult learner in formal educational activities remains remarkably consistent: white, middle-class, employed, younger, and better educated than the nonparticipant. Further, employment-related reasons account for the majority of participant interest in continuing education.” (78)

Why Adults Do or Do Not Participate

Survey Study

Motivational Orientations of Learners

Barriers to Participation

Adding a Sociological Lens to Explanations of Participation

“people’s decisions to participate have less to do with their needs and motives than with their position in society and the social experiences that have shaped their lives.” (78)

Problematizing the Concept of Participation 

a critique of the following four assumptions:

Participation is a Good Thing

Participation Equals Formal Learning

Learners are Abstract, Not Socialized Individuals

There are Barriers, Not Resistance

Part Two: Adult Learning Theory and Models

Chapter Four: Knowles’s Andragogy, and Models of Adult Learning by McClusky, Illeris, and Jarvis

Houle. The Design of Education (1972)

Kidd. How Adults Learn (1973)

Knowles. The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species (1973) and The Modern Practice of Adult Education (1970)


Six assumptions:

  1. as a person matures, his or her self-concept moves from that of a dependent personality toward one of a self-directing human being
  2. an adult accumulates a growing reservoir of experience, which is a rich resource for learning.
  3. The readiness of an adult to learn is closely related to the developmental tasks of his or her social role.
  4. There is a change in time perspective as people mature–from future application of knowledge to immediacy of application. Thus, an adult is more problem centered than subject centered in learning.
  5. The most potent motivations are internal rather than external
  6. Adults need to know why they need to learn something. (84)

much debate over whether this is a theory at all. a theory of learning or a theory of teaching?

Knowles himself wrote the he “prefers to think of [andragogy] as a model of assumptions about learning or a conceptual framework that serves as a basis for an emergent theory.” (87)

Shifted from a contrast between pedagogy vs. andragogy to a continuum from pedagogy (teacher-directed learning) to andragogy (student-directed learning)

andragogy now seems to be situation-specific and not unique to adults. (87)

Recent Critiques of Andragogy

too focused on autonomous individualism.

does not acknowledge the socially-situated self.

basically only describes the white privileged learner.

Research on Andragogy

Beder and Darkenwald found no difference in how teachers approached adults or preadults

Rachal proposes seven standards or criteria to see if it really works.

Other Models of Adult Learning

McClusky’s Theory of Margin

margin is the ratio of load (L) to power (P). more power means a greater margin to participate in learning. (93)

“It is perhaps a better counseling tool than it is an explanation of adult learning, however.” (96)

Illeris’s Three Dimensions of Learning Model

three dimensions involved in learning–cognition, emotion, and society. (97)

five stimuli:

  1. perception
  2. transmission -someone passes information
  3. experience – acting in the learning process.
  4. imitation
  5. activity or participation – goal-directed activity.

Jarvis’s Learning Process

begins with experience

disjuncture between biography and experience

all learning begins with the five human sensations of sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch.

all experience occurs within the learner’s world, which is ever-changing.

next level – three ways of learning: thinking, doing, and feeling (experiencing emotion)

“Each model discussed in this chapter contributes in its own way to advancing our understanding of adult learners. However, there has been little research testing the power of the models to explain or predict adult learning behavior. The process of model and theory building does, however, stimulate inquiry and reflection, all of which may eventually provide some of the answers to our questions about adult learning.” (104)

Chapter Five: Self-Directed Learning

[Tough] – self-planned learning

Goals of Self-Directed Learning

1. enhance the ability of adult learners to be self-directed

grounded in humanistic philosophy

[Brockett and Hiemstra] Personal Responsibility Orientation PRO

    • human nature is basically good
    • individuals possess virtually unlimited potential for growth
    • only by accepting responsibility for one’s own learning is it possible

2.  foster transformational learning

3.  promote emancipatory learning and social action

Self-Directed Learning as Process

reflects goal one, primarily

Linear Models


thirteen steps in self-planned learning projects


  1. climate setting
  2. diagnosing learning needs
  3. formulating learning goals
  4. identifying human and material resources
  5. choosing and implementing strategies
  6. evaluating learning outcomes

Interactive Models

Spear’s Model

three elements:

  1. the opportunities people find themselves in
  2. past or new knowledge
  3. chance occurrences

Brockett and Hiemstra’s Model

PRO Personal Responsibility Orientation model

“instructors must possess skills in helping learners do needs assessments, locate learning resources, and choose instructional methods and evaluation strategies.” (113

Garrison’s Model

grounded in a collaborative constructivist perspective

  1. integrates self-management
  2. self-monitoring
  3. motivational dimensions

Other Models


five stages

  1. inquiring
  2. modeling
  3. experimenting
  4. theorizing
  5. actualizing


[Toberson and Merriam]

Instructional Models


Staged Self-Directed Learning (SSDL)

based on Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model

Stage 1: Dependent Learner

Stage 2: Interested Learner

Stage 3: Involved Learner

Stage 4: Self-directed Learner

[Hammond and Collins]

  1. Building a cooperative learning climate
  2. analyzing and critically reflecting on themselves and contexts
  3. generating competency profiles for themselves
  4. diagnosing their learning needs within the framework of personal and social context
  5. formulating socially and personally relevant learning goals that result in learning agreements
  6. implementing and managing their learning
  7. reflecting on an evaluating their learning

Self-Direction as a Personal Attribute of Learners

Assessing Self-Directedness

Autonomy of Self-Directedness: Innate or Situational?


three elements that describe an autonomous learner:

  1. independence
  2. the ability to make choices and critical judgments
  3. capacity to articulate the norms and limits of a learning society.

autonomy is not necessarily context-free

four major variables to whether individual learners exhibit autonomous behavior

  1. technical skills related to learning process
  2. familiarity with subject
  3. sense of personal competence as learners
  4. commitment to learning


“Although autonomy reflects independence and uniqueness, homonomy is ‘the experience of being part of meaningful wholes and in harmony with superindividual units such as family, social group, culture, and cosmic order.'” (124)

“participation in something beyond the individual self is the motivation for the homonomous (connected) self.” (124)

Recent Applications of SDL and Building Research and Theory

[Dunlap and Grabinger]

three teaching strategies to develop capacity for self-direction, metacognitive awareness, and a disposition toward learning:

  1. problem-based learning (PBL)
  2. intentional learning environments
  3. cognitive apprenticeships

Chapter Six: Transformational Learning

The Lenses of Transformational Learning


seven lenses in two groups based on locus of learning

  1. locus = individual: psychocritical, psychodevelopmental, psychoanalytic
  2. locus = sociocultural: social-emancipatory, cultural-spiritual, race-centric, planetary

Key players in the individual loci: [Jack Mezirow] [Laurent Daloz] [Robert Boyd]

key players in the sociocultural: [Freire] [Tisdell] [Taylor] [

Mezirow’s Psychocritical Approach

“Mezirow’s theory concerns how adults make sense of their life experience. Mezirow defines learning as ‘the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or a revised interpretation of the meaning of one’s experience in order to guide future action.'” (132)

types of meaning structures

  • frame of reference
  • a habit of mind
  • point of view – made up of meaning schemes

“Transformative learning occurs when there is a transformation in one of our beliefs or attitudes (a meaning scheme), or a transformation of our entire perspective (habit of mind).” (133)

Ten steps in four main components:

  1. experiences
  2. critical self-examination
  3. discourse (Habermas)
    1. action – becoming aware of a need to change
    2. a feeling of solidarity with others committed to change
    3. one has to learn what actions are appropriate
  4. most often set in motion by a disorienting dilemma

Daloz’s Psychodevelopmental Perspective and Boyd’s Psychoanalytic Approach


three maps of adult development

  1. phase theories e.g. [Daniel Levinson]
  2. stage theories e.g. [Kegan]
  3. ethical development [Perry]

“Daloz takes a storied approach. Through storytelling, Daloz and his students journey toward a more holistic and transformed worldview.” (139)


“His work, grounded in depth psychology, sees transformation as an inner journey of individuation from parts of the psyche such as the ego and the collective unconscious.” (139)

Freire’s Social-Emancipatory Philosophy

emerges from context of poverty, illiteracy, and oppression in the larger context of radical social change (140)

conscientization and empowerment

two kinds of education

  • banking – teacher-centered


  • problem posing – purpose = liberation


begins with dialogue

“The ultimate goal of education is liberation, or praxis, ‘the actin and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it’. Note that a key component of Freire’s philosophy, like Mezirow’s, is critical reflection. Critical reflection occurs through problem posing and dialogue with other learners.” (141)

Emerging Sociocultural Perspectives: The Cultural-Spiritual, Race-Centric, and Planetary Approaches

[Tisdell] Cultural-Spiritual

“‘spirituality…is fundamentally about how we make meaning in our lives’ through conscious and unconscious processes such as dreams and symbols.” (141-2)

several factors:

  1. cross-cultural relationships
  2. educators need to be spiritually and culturally grounded in order to promote authenticity
  3. community-based, culturally relevant settings
  4. allow for explorations on the cognitive, affective, relational, and symbolic levels.

race-centric approach [Johnson-Bailey and Alfred] [Sheared]

african descent

Planetary View [Taylor]

“recognizes the interconnectedness between the universe, planet, natural environment, human community and the personal world.” (143)

SUMMARY commonalities among Transformational Approaches

  1. constructivists
  2. dialogue is necessary
  3. critical reflection
  4. social change

Key Concepts in Transformational Learning

  • Experience
  • Critical Reflection
  • three types of reflection
    • content reflection
    • process reflection
    • premise reflection

critical reflection = critical thinking and reflective practice

[Brookfield] writing about critical thinking

  1. trigger events
  2. appraisal
  3. exploration
  4. developing alternative perspectives
  5. integrate new thinking into fabric of life
  6. scrutinize


[K Taylor]

changing how one knows in developmental terms

  1. dialogical process
  2. dialogical relationship with oneself
  3. continuous learners
  4. self-agency and authorship
  5. connections with others

[Kegan] “wrote that higher and adult education’s ‘mission’ is to ‘assist adults in creating the order of consciousness the modern world demands.'” (148)

Unresolved Issues in Transformational Learning Theory


Rationality and Affect

Role of relationships in the Transformative Learning Process

Social Action

The Educators’ Place in Fostering Transformative Learning

Trends in the Transformational Learning Literature

Emotional and Spiritual Aspects

[Davis] explored “the human experience of spirit and its relationship to the transformative learning process.” (156)

[Sawyer] “detailed the role of cognition, emotion, and spirituality in cellular biologist Bruce Lipton’s transformation from holding a ‘materialist-reductionst-determist worldview…to a quantum physics-based understanding of the universe, founded on energetics, holism and uncertainty.'” (156)

Transformative learning and technology

[Cranton and Dirkx]

Transformative Learning in the workplace

Chapter Seven: Experience and Learning

Learning from Life Experiences

[John Dewey] + [Kolb and Kolb]

from [Dewey] [Piaget] [jung] [Rogers]

six general propositions of experiential learning theory

  1. learning is a process
  2. learning is relearning
  3. learners must resolve opposing modes of reflection
  4. learning is holistic
  5. learning involves interactions between learner and environment
  6. learning is constructivist in nature

MY QUESTION: What is constructivism?

From Wikipedia:

Constructivism is the way people create meaning of the world through a series of individual constructs. Constructs are the different types of filters we choose to place over our realities to change our reality from chaos to order. Von Glasersfeld describes constructivism as, “a theory of knowledge with roots in philosophy, psychology, and cybernetics” (p 162).[1] Simply stated, it is a learning process which allows a student to experience an environment first-hand, thereby, giving the student reliable, trust-worthy knowledge. The student is required to act upon the environment to both acquire and test new knowledge.


[edit] Constructivists

  • John Dewey (1859–1952)
  • Maria Montessori (1870–1952)
  • Władysław Strzemiński (1893–1952)
  • Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
  • Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
  • George Kelly (1905–1967)
  • Heinz von Foerster (1911–2002)
  • Herbert A. Simon (1916–2001)
  • Ernst von Glasersfeld (1917–2010)
  • Paul Watzlawick (1921–2007)
  • Edgar Morin (1921-)
  • Humberto Maturana (1928-)
  • Laszlo Garai (1935-)
  • David A. Kolb (1939–)

Models of Experiential Learning

[Kolb] [Jarvis] = Constructivist paradigm

Requires four abilities:

  1. openness and willingness to involve oneself in new experiences
  2. observational and reflective skills
  3. analytical abilities
  4. decision-making and problem-solving skills

a cyclical process

nonreflective and reflective learning

[Boud and Walker] Usher, Bryant, and Johnson] = situative paradigm

specific contexts shape and individuals’ experience

how do differences in individuals influence reflection?

“These authors assert that ‘the meaning of experience is never permanently fixed; thus, the text of experience is always open to reinterpretation.'” (166)

[Fenwick] psychoanalytic, critical, and complexity approaches

Educator’s Roles and Purposes

facilitators of reflection


coach or mentor

assessor of learner’s prior experiential learning

Methods Associated with Reflective and Situative Paradigms

Reflective Practice

allows one to make judgments in complex and murky situations

“Reflective practice is a deliberate pause to assume an open perspective, to allow for higher-level thinking processes. Practitioners use these processes for examining beliefs, goals, and practices, to gain new or deeper understanding that lead to actions that improve learning for students.”

Reflection-in-Action thinking through a situation after it has happened.


reshapes what we are doing while we are doing it.

triggered by surprise

“experienced professionals use reflection-in-action as a regular part of their practice.” (177)

Situated Cognition

“one cannot separate the learning process from the situation in which the learning is presented. Knowledge is not received and later transferred to another situation ‘but part of the very process of participation n the immediate situation.'” (178)

learning process changes from emphasis on memory and processing information to perception and the setting in which the perceptions are made (179)

learning and knowing are primarily cultural phenomena which moves the study of cognition into the social and political realm and raises the issues of power.

“Foremost among these critiques is a challenge to the fundamental notion that learning is something that occurs within the individual. Rather, learning encompasses the interaction of learners and the social environments in which they function.” (180)

need to create authentic experiences.

Cognitive Apprenticeships

tries to enculturate learners into authentic practices through activity and social interaction in a way similar to that evident in craft apprenticeship.

five phase model

  1. modeling
  2. approximating (concept of instructor scaffolding the process)
  3. scaffolding removed, less defined situations
  4. assistance only upon request
  5. generalizing

Anchored Instruction

“purpose is to create situations in which learners, through sustained experiences, can grapple with the problems and opportunities that experts encounter.” (181)

An Appraisal of Experiential Learning


  1. debate whether people consist of one unified self or if they are a collection of multiple selves
  2. prominence of cognitive reflection
  3. separation of learner from context of the experience
  4. experiential learning is bounded “people’s knowing is colonized by being squeezed into…categories and identities.” (184)


Part Three: Newer Approaches to Adult Learning

Chapter Eight: Embodied, Spiritual, and Narrative Learning

“The whole person is made up of mind, body, and spirit…Our Western heritage has defined learning as a mental process that takes place in the mind–never mind that we cannot locate the ‘mind.'”(189)

separation of mind and body stems from Descartes and was reinforced by Enlightenment thinking.

Old School – learning = mental process

Embodied or Somatic Learning

[Michelson] Somatic or Embodied learning

Rejection of the Body

Reclaiming the Body in Learning

“is most often linked to experiential learning in the sense that we learn in an experience. somatic knowing, as is also true of spiritual and narrative knowing, is connect to adult learning through meaning-making.” (192)




[Amann] four dimensions: kinesthetic, sensory, affective, and spiritual.

“‘Emotions increase the strength of memories and help to recall the context of an experience, rendering it meaningful.'” quoting Hill (195)

embodied cognition [Cheville]

ontological performance [Beckett and Morris]

somatic epistemology for education [Brockman]

Spirituality in Learning

[Zohar and Marshall] are proposing a spiritual intelligence in addition to IQ and EQ

Defining Spirituality

[Tisdell] “‘Religion is an organized community of faith that has written doctrine and codes of regulatory behavior. Spirituality, however, is more personal belief and experience of a divine spirit or higher purpose, about how we construct meaning, and what we individually and communally experience and attend to and honor as the sacred in our lives.'” (200)

seven assumptions:

  1. spirituality and religion are not the same
  2. spirituality is about an awareness and honoring of wholeness and the interconnectedness of all things
  3. spirituality is fundamentally about meaning-making
  4. spirituality is always present (though often unacknowledged) in the learning environment
  5. spiritual development constitutes moving toward greater authenticity or to a more authentic self.
  6. spirituality is about how people construct knowledge through largely unconscious and symbolic processes, often made more concrete in art forms such as music, art, image, symbol, and ritual which are manifested culturally.
  7. spiritual experiences most often happen by surprise.

Physist David Bohm cited in [Lemkow] ‘what is spirit? the word is derived from a Latin word meaning ‘breath’ or ‘wind’–like respiration or inspiration. It is suggested by the trees moving with the invisible force of the wind. We may thus think of spirit as an invisible force–a life-giving essence that moves us deeply, or as a source that moves everything from within.'” (202)

[Graves] work on Grace. Several characteristics of Grace:

  1. transforming
  2. healing
  3. transcends the ego
  4. opening the possible
  5. pointing toward what is right
  6. enhancing creativity
  7. surprising

Fostering Spirituality in Adult Learning

“For spirituality or moments of grace to happen, ‘weighty seriousness’ must be replaced with playfulness, openness, creativity, and imagination.” (204)



[English, Fenwick, and Parsons]

[Dirkx] imaginal method


Narrative Learning

[Rossiter] “‘Narrative knowing…is concerned more with human meaning than with discrete facts, more with coherence than with logic, more with sequences than with categories, and more with understanding than with predictability and control'”(208)

four types of narrative: cultural, filial, individual, organizational

Learning through Narrative

three ways in which stories appear in practice: storying the curriculum, storytelling, autobiography.

Three benefits of journaling: coping, joy of discovery, nurturing of one’s voice and spirit

Narrative Learning, Adult Development, and Transformational Learning

[Jack Mezirow] chief architect of transformational learning theory.

we seek to restory our lives.

“‘it is the question as to how I can compose a story big enough, with a horizon broad enough, to account for as much as possible of my actual life and render it available to me as a coherent, re-membered whole.'” (215)


Chapter Nine: Learning and Knowing: Non-Western Perspectives

summary of Western assumptions: “research and theory in adult learning to a large extent assumes that eh mind and body are split, thus leading to an emphasis on cognition, information processing, intelligence measures, cognitive development, and so on. Embedded in this focus are the cultural values of privileging the individual learner over the collective, and promoting autonomy and independence of thought and action over community and interdependence.” (217-18)

Why Study Other Ways of Learning and Knowing?

The Western/Non-Western Dichotomy, Culture, and Indigenous Knowledge

“what inking “Western” and “non-Western” to culture does is to provide a kind of shorthand for comparing two epistemological systems.” (223)

An Introduction to Five Non-Western Perspectives on Learning

Adult Learning from a Confucian Way of Thinking: Youngwha Kee

The Hindu Perspective: Swathi Nath Thaker

Maori Concepts of Learning and Knowledge: Brian Findsen

Adult Learning from an Islamic Perspective: Mazanah Muhamad and Mazalan Kamis

African Indigenous Education: Gabo Ntseane

Common Themes Across Non-Western and Indigenous Perspectives

  1. interdependence instead of independence in learning.
  2. communal nature of learning
  3. holistic approach includes spirit, mind, body, and emotional components
  4. informal, embedded in everyday life.

Chapter Ten: Critical Theory, Postmodern, and Feminist Perspectives

[Hart] [Tisdell] [Hill] [Grace] [Freire]

Common Themes

Race, Class, and Gender

Power and Oppression

Critical Social Theory: {Jürgen Habermas and the Frankfurt School

[Welton] The aim of critical social theory is ‘to help people to stop being passive victims who collude, at least partly, in their domination by external forces. critical theory’s liberating project is to name the enemies of human freedom, and to point to the possibility of freedom’s enlargement.” (250)

the appropriation of the lifeworld–our everyday personal interactions in home, family, and community–by the system–the structures of power. (250)

Knowledge and Truth

[Habermas] three types of knowledge: technical, practical, emancipatory.

one the postmodern’s major strategies: deconstruction (252)

Habermas identified four criteria that should result in mature, rational, candid, authentic discussions: comprehensibility, sincerity, truth, and legitimacy. (255)

Seven learning tasks in critical learning theory:

  1. challenging ideology.
  2. contesting hegemony
  3. unmasking power
  4. overcoming alienation
  5. learning liberation
  6. reclaiming reason
  7. practicing democracy

Critical Theory and Adult Learning

Postmodernism and Adult Learning

Feminist Pedagogy and Adult Learning

Part Four: Learning and Development

Chapter Eleven: Traditional Learning Theories

Plato: believed that the physical object in our everyday world have corresponding abstract forms that we can come to know through “introspection or self-analysis…only by turning away from the physical impure world to the world of ideas, pondered by the mind’s eye, can we hope to gain true knowledge.'” (275)

Aristotle: believed that all knowledge comes through the senses; these sense impressions can be pondered ‘to discover the lawfulness that runs through them'” (275)

Plato’s rationalism can be seen in Gestalt and cognitive psychology

Aristotle’s empiricism is evident in behavioral psychology.

Learning and Learning Theories

Behaviorist Orientation

[Watson] [Thorndike] [Tolman] [Guthrie] [Hull] [Skinner]

three basic assumptions:

  1. observable behavior
  2. environment shapes behavior
  3. contiguity and reinforcement are central


Humanist Orientation

“human beings can control their own destiny; people are inherently good and will strive for a better world; people are free to act, and behavior is the consequence of human choice; people possess unlimited potential for growth and development.'” (282)

[Maslow] [Rogers]

Cognitive Orientation

Gestalt psychology

two key assumptions:

  1. the memory system is an active organized processor of information
  2. prior knowledge plays an important role in learning

the thinking person interprets sensations and give meaning to the events that impinge upon his consciousness.” (285)

[Jean Piaget]

Social Cognitive Orientation

people learn from observing others

Constructivist Orientation

“maintains that learning is a process of constructing meaning; it is how people make sense of their experience.” (291)

Chapter Twelve: Adult Development

Four Approaches to Adult Development

Biological Development


The Central Nervous System

Psychological Development

Erickson’s Psychosocial Development Model

Levinson’s Age-Graded Model

Other Models

Sociocultural Factors

Social Roles and the Timing of Life Events

Socially Constructed Notions of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

Integrative Perspectives

Chapter Thirteen: Cognitive Development in Adulthood

Foundational Work on Cognitive Development

Linear and Categorical Models of Adult Cognitive Development

Perry’s Developmental Scheme

The Reflective Judgment Model

Women’s Ways of Knowing

Epistemological Reflection Model

The Transcendence View

Dialectical Thinking

The Contextual Perspective

Wisdom: The Hallmark of Adult Thinking

Chapter Fourteen: Intelligence and Aging

Traditional Approaches to Intelligence

The Biological Approach

The Individual Differences Approach

Age and Intellectual Abilities

Concept of Intelligence

parameters of Aging

Research Designs and Measures

Challenges to the More Traditional Concepts of Intelligence

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Practical Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

The Contextual Perspective of Intelligence

Intelligence, Aging, and Adult Learning

Chapter Fifteen: Memory, Cognition, and the Brain

Human Memory

Memory and Aging

Sensory and Working Memory

Long-Term Memory

Memory in Context

Fostering Memory Capacity and Skills

Knowledge Structures

Prior Knowledge and Experience

Cognitive Style and Learning Style

Neurobiology and the Brain

Differing Views of the Brain

The Structures and Functions of the Brain

Connections to Learning in Adulthood

New Directions and Discoveries

Chapter Sixteen: Reflections on Learning in Adulthood

The Learner

The Context

The Learning Process

The Configuration of Learner, Context, and Process

Some Concluding Thoughts



Book | The Evolving Self by Robert Kegan

Evernote Camera Roll 20140222 142314Kegan, Robert. The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982.

The Author – Robert Kegan

My Thoughts

I read the Prologue to this book today. I have already read In Over Our Heads and Immunity to Change, so I am familiar with Kegan’s theory. Mary Hess suggested that I read this book, and include it in my bibliography, since it is the foundation to his theory.

Reading the prologue, in this context, reminds me again why I so resonate with Kegan. I believe his theories are the psychological language of relational ontology and demonstrate the image of the Trinity in human being.

I intentionally said “human being” in the previous sentence as opposed to the expected “the human being.” To be human is not to be a single “being,” existing as an isolated, autonomous being that does things. Human being is the activity of meaning-making which is the dynamic, dialectical interpenetration of physical, social, and cognitive action. This is, in my opinion, relational ontology.

Quotes from the Prologue

“The subject of this book is the person, where ‘person’ is understood to refer as much to an activity as to a thing–an ever progressive motion engaged in giving itself a new form.” (7-8)

“The so-called thing (a fist) can be made to ‘disappear’ because it is not only a thing; disguised as a noun, it is as much a process (the act of closing the hand).” (8)

“If the reader is genuinely to try on the way of seeing that constructive-developmental personality theory suggests, he or she must practice thinking a bit more like the Chinese [more dialectic, less dichotomous]. While it may be possible for us to accept in isolation an axiom like Hegel’s, or Whitehead’s (1929), that what is most fundamental about life is that it is motion (rather than merely something in motion), it remains that we are greatly tempted–and seduced–by our language into experiencing ourselves and the world as things that move. Even the action nouns (gerunds) which we use to refer to ourselves have lost their active dimension and get constituted as things. A writer has to strain to make the reader recover the process in the words “human being”; we talk about “a being” and “beings.” This book is about human being as an activity. It is not about the doing which a human does; it is about the doing which a human is.” (8)

“Before long the reader will find the expression ‘meaning-making organism’ redundant; what an organism does, as William Perry says, is organize; and what a human organism organizes is meaning. Thus it is not that a person makes meaning, as much as that the activity of being a person is the activity of meaning-making. There is thus no feeling, no experience, no thought, no perception, independent of a meaning-making context in which it becomes a feeling, an experience, a thought, a perception, because we are the meaning-making context. ‘Percept without concept is blind,’ Kant said. ‘Experience is not what happens to you,’ Aldous Huxley said, ‘it’s what you do with what happens to you’. And the most fundamental thing we do with what happens to us is organize it. We literally make sense. Human being is the composing of meaning, including, or course, the occasional inability to compose meaning, which we often experience as the loss of our own composure.” (11)

“Thus just as the object-grasping infant is doing something which, in another form, he will try to do all his life (grasp things), so the attention-recruiting infant is doing something he will try to do all his life (recognize and be recognized)–and at bottom it is the same thing: the activity of meaning. Meaning is, in its origins, a physical activity (grasping, seeing), a social activity (it requires another), a survival activity (in doing it, we live). Meaning, understood in this way, is the primary human motion, irreducible. It cannot be divorced from the body, from social experience, or from the very survival of the organism. Meaning depends on someone who recognizes you. Not meaning, by definition, is utterly lonely. Well-fed, warm, and free of disease, you may still perish if you cannot ‘mean.'” (19)

“Who come into a person’s life may be the single greatest factor of influence to what that life becomes.” (19)