Communities of Learning FAQ's on This Future of Education
A New Story of Education For a New Century
FAQ's on This Future of Education
Be There Dragons? Can It Scale?
FAQ'S About the Communities of Learning Approach
Q: Are Communities of Learning a brand-new concept?
A: It is an long-existing phenomenon. But now we can bring it increased coherence and development further its legitimacy as a viable approach to education.
The work on building Communities of Learning began decades ago, and is already in full swing in every corner of the nation. In every local area, citizens have long been developing enrichment programs for both adults and young people. For young people, these enrichment activities are both additions to their formal schooling, or - - for independent-study students - - often their major source of learning resources.
So we can see that learning communities are an already-existing phenomenon, one that needs to be developed further. This phenomenon can become stronger and more coherent by facilitating the following dynamics of these groups :
Key steps in this process of creating a coherent resource network :
In the last decade, increasing numbers of independent-learning students have been making ample use of the resource offerings of informal resource networks. This has included up through high school years in preparation for college. Their work outside of standard institutional educational auspices has amply shown that is possible to excel academically. In addition and very importantly, this approach has offered time for students’ exploration and finding their own unique paths in life.
Increased coherence of learning resources networks will strengthen both the knowledge of and understanding for the viability of the independent-learning approach to education. In addition to their resource guidance function, Community Learning Centers would offer independent learning participants much-needed geographic focal points - - stable, physical gatherings places for independent, self-motivated learners to build camaraderie and community.
Q: How do Community Learning Centers compare with schools which open their programs to independent-learning students?
A: There exist some regular schools - - both public and private - - which open their doors to independent- learning students - - both local and distance learners. These schools serve the very needed role of being open to diversity of learning mode. However there are major differences between these schools and the Communities of Learning model presented in this website :
Q: How can the Communities of Learning approach get started? How can it avoid lapsing into being just another top-down dictate?
A: By voluntary, grass-roots implementation
Implementing the multi-centered, voluntary-community model of Community Learning
Centers would not be a disruptive, cumbersome, or difficult process. This model has no single central authority
making executive decisions - - neither local nor national. Therefore, there would never be one grand, centrally
mandated changeover. In fact, any kind of sweeping mandate would be antithetical to the very spirit of this model.
Instead, this model offers a way in which autonomous groups of local citizens can work in their own geographic areas to develop their own unique learning opportunities. Each individual group would first establish its own set of essential core values to use as a foundation for their programs. Each group would develop learning offerings in a process of continually adaptive, self-organizing flux, ever responsive to the needs and wants of its members.
These local groups would use the previously discussed "growth by chunking"
process : building a complex adaptive system one incremental, proven, autonomous, grassroots chunk
at a time.(8) All of the individual groups taken together creates
the overall fabric of the wider community's learning opportunities.
This approach resembles a jazz festival or fiddlers convention where spread out all over the festival grounds are small groups of musicians playing music together. Each group of musicians establishes the fundamental melody and rhythm for their own session, and then sees what kind of improvisational, transporting music they can make together. The sum total of all of these individual groups - - each playing its own music - - gives the festival its overall flavor.
Q: How can we move from the current, very large system of single-centered edifices to the approach of Multi-Centered Networks of Communities of Learning?
A: Due to its very nature, the Communities of Learning model can serve across all phases of our educational system's transformation :
Because of this model's broad applicability, people from a wide variety of learning situations would be welcome at Community Learning Centers across all phases of the general transformation (based on previous list of Center Users ) :
Welcoming participation from a broad base of users can help lessen the unfortunate "us & them" attitude of antagonism and competition often adopted today between “regular” students and independent-learning students - - with responsibility for this shared equally. These kinds of polarizing distinctions are artificial and unnecessary. They are counterproductive in that they get in the way of the pleasure and benefits of people doing good work together.
Being alive and learning are not a competition. After all, we ALL live on this planet together, and we ALL are trying to do the best we can. It’s a big life. And we are ALL "us."
For Next Steps, see last section of Proposal Summary & Next Steps.
FAQ's on This Future