Learning & Working with the Senses

This article is a continuation of Planning for Head, Heart & Hands where I shared some notes on how we (FoF partnership) use different methodologies and frameworks to suit different learning interests and styles.

On our website intro you might have read the following text:

What is the future of food? is exactly what we are trying to find out, in an open and experiential way, focusing on the 4 fields of food and how they are present within the diversity of our partnership.

This article tries to explain a little bit what we mean by an open and experiential way to learning.

Wikipedia defines Experiential learning as the process of making meaning from direct experience, i.e., “learning from experience”. Quoting Aristotle saying;

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”

But; how do we learn from experience? doesn’t this basically mean we all have to wait until we are really old -before we can actually know anything…

Not quite – Relax! Luckily this doesn’t seem to be the case, we’ve all had really positive learning experiences outside of classrooms – just remember that “learning” is something that all beings do on earth!

Whilst it’s quite common to think of education as something that is really information based and to do with the “ones that know” and the “ones that don’t know”; there is a long history of philosophers, scientists, psychologists and pedagogues that would argue that learning has a lot more dimensions than just words and those who hold on to them.

“Sense making” is the process by which people give meaning to experience.

At the end of the day no matter what we were told, it comes down to how we each make sense of it in our own personal worlds.

Even the same word makes different sense to different people. The great thinker Gregory Bateson  (author of steps to an ecology of mind) defined information as “a difference which makes a difference.

This is usually when the magic word **subjectivity** comes into the room and initially brings a fear of eternal chaos and big philosophical debates. – Bare with me a moment as I try to show you – how its possible to work with the senses, allowing subjectivity to be free & flourish in a cared for and planned process.

Here is a list of three Learning Senses that seem to be part of the different cultures in our partnership and how we’ve been working them into our learning habits:

Sense of Place

Placed based learning is a big star of non-formal learning programs, improving the place-less quality of many formal learning environments (i.e the most common “a class room”). To develope a rich sense of place within a group its important that:

The place itself has a role as a teacher.

Thats why we always organize fully residential meetings based at each partners “Common Spaces” and include in the program common roles of the place.

During our meetings we live, eat and work in “situ”

Many of us recognize how the place makes a big difference on how we “see” things.

By the time we will have visited each country we will have a richer sense of place within the partnership and therefore a different way at looking at common subjects

Sense of Self

The topic of food is huge, peoples interest in it is varied and within our partnership this manifests as an interesting diversity of learning interests and styles.

Trying to live up to the Erasmus+ spirit of Lifelong learning as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of education – We try to take care of peoples different learning styles by planning for Head, Heart & Hands and by combining two types of processes within our meetings: spontaneously emerging and deeply planned learning outcomes or products.

Somethings we really like to talk and debate about for as long as everyone involved feels its right – and – other times there are “aha” moments that actually materializes in a short period of time.

To allow this to happen  – we have a non centralized working system where subgroups are born mainly from a common interest in a topic or a group bonding moment.

Activities that include meditations and self awareness practices and celebrations can encourage us all to take mindful awareness ideal for group discussions to hold up a supportive mirror that shows us how we each are in the world.

Sense of Community (or common sense)

A learning community is a group of people who share a common motivation, actively engaged in learning together with/from each other, by supported habituation. Through a constantly developing communication with one another, individuals build authentic and nurturing relationships, with each ones gifts. This makes a difference on what each consider “common sense”.

During our weekly skype meetings, as coordinators, we always start with a personal check-in that sets the mood for our work together and helps us get to know each other more ‘n’ more!

By all taking care of the place & the group, with cooking & land workshops, as well as voluntary service in keeping a safe and beautiful environment we nurture a dynamic process that creates an authentic living community.

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