Hey Brother, Can You Spare Some Change?

Thanks to MatthewBradley on Flickr for making this image available.

Thanks to MatthewBradley on Flickr for making this image available.

I have prattled often about the relationship between learning and change and I even shared what I thought to be a really good idea about it all, and alas, here I post about it again.

Why do I keep yammering about this, you ask? Well, I ran across a good quote about it all and OMG W-O-W! — if this doesn’t say something neat about it:

Change is only another word for learning; therefore, the theories of learning will also be the theories of changing. If you want to change, try learning, one might say, or more precisely, if you want to be more in control of your change, take learning more seriously. -Charles Handy

Major Academic Problem: I can’t locate the actual source for this quote (if you know it, please share!), but I still like the idea of it so let me continue …

I think Handy’s idea (if it is actually his) can apply to our new learning as well as our prior learning.  For example, most of my PLA students critically reflect on the key learning experiences they’ve had in their lives and say, with all brutal honesty, “Yes, that changed me.” I’ve read it over and over in my students’ essays about how they changed — actions, attitudes, perspectives — as a result of some key learning experiences they had and have reflected upon. My friend and colleague Annalee Lamoreaux (who works at Saint Mary’s College of California) did a fabulous study on this very topic in her dissertation titled “Adult Learners’ Experience of Change Related to Prior Learning Assessment.”

Change happens!

So we could ask: what comes first, the chicken or the egg? The learning leading to the change? Or change, leading to learning? Or are they so inextricably woven that we can’t easily untangle them (and would we want to?)

Or (/and), we could ask:

  • How have my learning experiences changed me?
  • Have changes that I have experienced — in myself or externally — helped me learn something?
  • Has learning allowed me to take more control over changes that occur to me or by me?
  • Have I noticed that by taking “learning more seriously,” as Handy (maybe) suggests, I can be more in control of my change?
  • In my experience, what has been the relationship between learning and change? How do I define that relationship? What are the characteristics or qualities of that relationship?

Not so easy, huh? And um yeah– THIS is why PLA is not so easy, either.

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