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Collective, Collaborative, Critical Reflections

How Do We Learn? We all learn differently, and in many different ways. There are so many variables and contexts that allow us to learn - unintentionally and intentionally. Lifelong learning is a journey we all undertake. Some religions and philosophers suggest that learning about oneself is perhaps one of the primary purposes of life itself. One very useful, important, and even essential way of learning, that I am increasingly realizing, is through "collective, collaborative, critical reflections”; especially for the purpose of social change and community development. Our education system often trains us to become individual learners, excel, compete, pursue individualized goals. But we all know how that approach affects our community groups, organizations, institutions - often competing without reason, creating dysfunctional power imbalances and hierarchies. There are a number of experiments, practices, and methodologies that deliberately and intentionally promote collaborative learning, using lived experiences as one of the primary sources for critical reflections; where such collective learning processes and spaces become energy-homes for positive social change. Power dynamics in the learning processes, perhaps, can’t be avoided, and yet, a deliberate design and skillful facilitation can limit the negative detractors of collaborative learning. Feminist learning theories and practices also seem to embed this core idea. We very often work in small groups, of many kinds, sizes and shapes - sometimes enjoying those processes immensely and at others, dreading them. Developing a commitment for deliberate and intentional 'collaborative. collective, critical reflection based learning' seems to work well if the conditions are right (or set right). There are many important elements for such learning processes, where one can perhaps combine systems thinking in learning, adult learning principles for social change (a la Paulo Freire) and feminist approaches to learning - where learning and change (or shifts) become one and the same. I will continue to explore this subject through praxis...

I have a number of co-conspirators in this studentship and am often inspired by the work and thoughts of Dave Snowden.

How do we really learn? How do systemic shifts happen? How do we create equity, inclusiveness, fairness, and agency in those change processes? …


Anuj Jain is the Founder and CEO at Facilitators for Social Change, and an associate with People Development. He recently shared these thoughts on his linked-in profile.


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