Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Learning in loops and wiggles and circular labyrinths

Something I have realized lately is how completely non-linear our learning on this planet earth can be.

The school method of learning is to portion and ration everything into a 'logical' and prescribed and linear way, feeding information in a fairly predicable, spoon-fed fashion.

A child is fed a carefully-controlled diet of facts, which, is considered to be a meaty and well-rounded sort of approach to understanding the world - one curriculum topic at a time. It is all very neat and tidy. Accounted for. Enforced. Boxes are ticked as knowledge is supposedly widened. Whether you take it truly on board and fully understand it or not.

And yet....

There is another kind of knowledge that happens completely independently from all that academic stuff. Children in school obviously learn this too, some of it in school hours, some of it outside them.

The stuff I'm talking about is the other kinds of knowledge. The kind of knowledge that comes when you are on a journey of discovery. Of course we are all on this journey, but some of us have to deal with this whilst having very little time to daydream, process or own that process.

True learning, happens in invisible and unseen ways. They are internal Eureka moments. Moments of the heart. Moments when you suddenly see something very clearly. They can happen as subtle shifts or singular defining moments that change you forever. Big life events that go beyond curriculum.

There are no certificates for that. No pat on the back or congratulations needed. No ways of measuring. No need to measure. Moments of pure knowing, pure unadulterated understanding.

It happens at home. It happens in school. It happens in institutions. It happens everywhere. It happens in spite of school. In spite of institutions. It happens at unlikely times. In unlikely places. Via unlikely media. It's unpredictable when the truth of something strikes like a thunderbolt. It could be a flash of friendship, a recognition, a link made. The moment when true loves makes our stomach do a flip. A birth or a loss. An illness. A miracle. A marriage or a divorce. A heart broken or healed. The heart going into overdrive. Neurons flashing like crazy as the learner suddenly just understands something. How can you schedule that?

A typical school room is a fairly uninspired and unlikely place for such genuine moments to occur. But it can happen like that I suppose.

Perhaps our true understanding happens less in a linear way and more in loops and whirls and labyrinths? As we enter a labyrinth, we seek a path away to the centre, following twists and turns and what seem to be diversions and double-backings and round and rounds. Travelling in a seemingly illogical, non-linear way, sometimes very close to the final destination and sometimes very far from it, we eventually arrive at the centre! Then we retrace our steps to find our way out. Maybe this is more true to life and the real journeys we make. The inner voyages of understanding and discovery for which there is no curriculum, no need for extrinsic reward, no easy way of explaining or demonstrating.

Perhaps the real tools and teachers that help us on our labyrinth journeys are the friendships and guides and symbols and dreams and totems can perhaps guide the way rather instead of the conventional teachers and academic markers and milestones we think of as the light that guides us along.... it's something to think about isn't it?


  1. I like to embrace *Life is learning is life* as an overall ethos. It's an individual and unique Journey we each take and I really love the personal times of enlightenment when they happen, however they happen.

    Been enjoying your birthing blogs too x

    1. I loved our philosophical face-to-face chats when you lived nearby - glad we can still keep having them in cyber land! Miss you all xx