Where do graduate-level faculty and learners mingle together in learning adventures, sharing bold insights as well as moments of deep questioning? The SelfDesign Graduate Institute is where.
I know, I’ve been a faculty member here since the inception of the SDGI in 2012, a place where I have come to relish the opportunity to learn from those who register to learn from me. On my part, this is a dispositional adjustment – a commitment to collaborative learning.
Indeed, I am an enthusiastic, lifelong learner with many areas of interest, and that helps prime me for learning wherever I might encounter it, solo or with others. But it’s more than just this because I know the game in so many (most?) other graduate-level programs still reeks of a musty will to build boundaries between ‘the teachers and the taught.’
Whether this attitude arises from a sense of entitled authority or fear I can’t say for sure. Surely, any sense of entitlement is overblown, something Socrates made clear around 2,500 years ago. A sense of fear is a little more plausible given that we are well-trained to be correct and invulnerable. But what we lose in a transaction to be correct and invulnerable is twofold. First, that knowledge we bet on yesterday is ever-changing and, gulp!, it’s different today. Not necessarily untrue, but different, and the only way we are going to easily recognize this is to be open to perceiving difference. Being open implies being vulnerable, if even a little.
Second, we lose out on the chance to enable a learner to step forward with their insights and experiences and claim their rightful place alongside we educators as lifelong seekers of knowledge. Isn’t that the disposition we want to nurture in our learners?
In listening to SDGI graduates recount their learning adventures, I’m delighted that, evidently, this is precisely a disposition they experience here.