MDDE 612: Experiential Learning (Currently Taking)

My prof is Maureen McCallum
  • Assignment #1, (5%), An easy reflective personal assignment.
  • Assignment #2 - Review #1, 3000 - 4500 words, (20%), Review Mezirow transformative learning theory and compare that to an account of a guy that worked in Vietnam during the war and/or the book Mutant Message Down Under.
  • Assignment #3 - Review # 2, (15%), 5000 words, review and integrate the ideas from five articles out of a set of ten readings.
  • Assignment #4 - A proposal for the next assignment. I don't think this is very formal, just to convey what you want to do and see if the prof approves.
  • Assignment #5 - (40%), 7000-8000 words OMG!!!!, apply Mezirow's transformative learning theory to something that you have gone though in your life. This is essentially the same assignment:

  1. Read this article first, as Mezirow has changed his theory many times over the years and his book is really really hard to read and understand. The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, written by Andrew Kitchenham. Journal of Transformative Education 2008 6: 104. DOI: 10.1177/1541344608322678. The online version of this article can be found at:
  2. Then read the two articles from the courses reading list.
    • Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult
    • Wiessner, C. A. & Mezirow, J. (2000). Theory building and the search for common ground
  3. And only then try and read Mezirow's book, but I would read the chapter summaries first before reading each chapter. (Mezirow gives a summary at the end of each chapter.)
  4. Also, have a look at the course Psychology 401, as MDDE 612 is the exact course, but with additions. The assignments in PSYC401 are the same, but offer more detail.

Also, the course is not very structured. There are no time lines for readings, just deadlines for assignments. The prof does not come up with discussion questions for the forums nor does she moderate, as this is the responsibility of the participants. Each participant has to come up with a discussion topic for a certain week and moderate the forum that week as well. (I prefer to get formative feedback from the prof via the discussion forums, but hey that could just be me.)

Link to the Readings for Transformative Learning

Link to the Readings for Assignment #2-- Review #2 (Review Five Articles)

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. CA

Chapter 1, Making Meaning: the Dynamic of Learning, p. 1-36.

Bowers summarizes findings from the sociology of knowledge regarding socialization with the following five propositions:
  • Proposition I: Social reality is shared, sustained, and continuously negotiated through communication.
  • Proposition II: Through socialization the individual's subjective self is built up in a biographically unique way. It serves as a set of interpretational rules for making sense of everyday life.
  • Proposition III: Much of the social world of everyday life is learned and experienced by the individual as the natural, even inevitable order of reality. This attitude toward the everyday world is taken for granted.
  • Proposition IV: The individual's self-concept is constituted through interaction with significant others. The individual requires not only socially shared knowledge but an understanding of who he or she is in relation to that knowledge.
  • Proposition V: Human consciousness is characterized by intentionality: it is the intentionality of consciousness that assures that socialization is not deterministic.

The autonomous individual free from oppression is illusory, although the individual's unique social biography, perspectives, and awareness of different interpretive schemes assure that he or she is never entirely the victim of determinism. In view of the nature of socialization, the familiar and simplistic dichotomy between oppression and freedom loses its credibility. We can never be totally free from our past.

  • a process of making explicit the message system that enables us to reformulate a constraining frame of reference. (Bowers redefinition)

Self-determination (personal autonomy) [This is taken from notes for MDDE613, unit 3]
  • the variable quality of being self-directing to the extent that one is in control of one's destiny
  • to be the quality which is being advocated and but see point 2 of self-management.

When adults are overwhelmed by change, rather than adapting to changing circumstances by applying old ways of knowing (assimilate), they discover a need to acquire new perspectives in order to gain a more complete understanding of changing events and a higher degree of control over their lives (accommodating). (assimilate vs accommodate)

external image assim.gif

external image accom.gif

In childhood there is formative learning and in adulthood there is transformative learning. (hmmm... I am not sure if I agree with this, yet.)

"In order to be free we must be able to "name" our reality, to know it divorced from what has been taken for granted, to speak with our own voice." (p. 3, sounds like Freire.)

We must learn to learn to negotiate meanings, purposes, and values
  • critically,
  • reflectively, and
  • rationally (here is a critique: rationally. Why does it have to be rational?)
  • instead of passively accepting the social realities defined by others

Overview Transformation Theory
  • The symbols that we project onto our sense perceptions are filtered through meaning perspectives.The resulting "loaded" perception is objectified through
  • Sets of habitual expectation or "meaning perspectives" (created by ideologies, learning styles, neurotic self-deceptions)constitute codes that govern the activities of perceiving, comprehending, and remembering.
  • Meaning is an interpretation, and to make meaning is to construe or interpret experience—in other words, to give it coherence. Meaning is construed both prelinguistically, through cues and symbolic models, and through language. These two ways of construing meaning are interactive processes involving two dimensions of awareness, the presentational and the propositional.

Implicit versus Tacit (link)
  • Implicit
    • Stuff we can surface and articulate through reflection, observation and dialog. This may be distinctions, categories, mental models that we have not written down or explicated in coversation before, but we can recall and dredge our memory or past experiences to provide the rational, the decisions or context. An important class of implicit knowledge is heuristics - personal rules of thumb that we have developed to cope with situations and to speed decisions.
  • Tacit
    • Is 'what we do not know we know', deep thoughts, intuition, feelings, fine motor skills and competencies, we either take for granted or have not discovered (recognized) we possess. Quite often tacit knowledge is tied to the environment, buried in the relationships or culture within which we operate. Another way to find tacit knowledge is to look to actions / objects and beliefs we 'know but cannot tell'.
    • such as understandings that have been culturally assimilated or "introjected" rather than deliberately taught or learned. Such tacit learning includes, for example, our characteristic ways of dealing with rejection or with authority, our ethnocentricity, our stereotypic belief systems,our tolerance for ambiguity, our learning styles, and the
      way we selectively perceive an event. (page 30, Mezirow's book)
    • memory of culturally assimilated habits of expectation that allow us to scan and censor the experience of our senses (page 31, Mezirow's book)
  • Explicit
    • memory that we can produce upon command
    • is indispensable in perception and plays an integral role in making an explanation and in reflective action.
  • Simply - if you are persistent, you can / will uncover implicit knowledge or come very close to articulating and representing it. Tacit knowledge, however, is always buried, yet it is the foundation for most of our actions, decisions, feelings and personal identity.

(Below info about presentational, propositional, and intentional construal is from: Mezirow, J. (1995). Transformation theory of adult learning. In M. Welton (Ed.), In defense of the lifeworld: Critical perspectives on adult learning (pp. 39-70). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.)
Presentational Construal (cues and symbolic models, perception)
  • In presentational construal we do not require words to make meaning, as when we experience presence, motion, color, texture, directionality, aesthetic or kinesthetic experience, empathy, feelings, appreciation, inspiration, or transcendence. We use language here only when we experience a problem in understanding or want to share the experience. (Mezirow, 2000, Learning to think like an adult, from our readings package, page 5)
  • apprehension, making meaning without using language and does not involve an internal dialogue.
  • we construe the real shape and size of something from its apparent shape and size; the total temporal form of a process from its serial occurrences; a distinctive presence or entity from its unique signature of form and movement
  • involve our sense of directionality, movement, entity, event punctuation (when an event begins and ends), colour, style, texture, light and dark, sound, our feelings, physiological reactions, physical balance, kinaesthetic awareness, recognition, empathy, and identification with others—all these extremely important dimensions of knowing are involved in making meaning without the direct and immediate use of language categories or words.
  • functions of presentational construal including:
    • judging immediate physical sensation, as when we learn to ski or ride a bike;
    • inspiration, like our feelings at beholding great beauty or great virtue;
    • aesthetic judgment, as when we perceive a flaw in design or a discrepancy between form and context;
    • love, as joyful awareness of the essential worth of any aspect of life or life itself;
    • acts of conscience, as when we spontaneously act upon our feelings regarding right and wrong;
    • reality recognition, as when we recognize that we are in a play, game or dream;
    • intuition, as when a decision about to be taken just does not feel right;
    • non-verbal play, as when we play with a dog and a stick;
    • solidarity, a feeling of oneness with others;
    • transcendence, as when we identify with a cause larger than ourselves about which we feel strongly or feel a sense of oneness with humanity or with God.
  • Feelings in presentational construal become emotions in propositional construal. Emotions influence prepositional construal by helping us to remember by giving weight to what we learn and by motivating us to take action.
  • Our value decisions are seldom judgments involving reflection and rational discourse (even with ourselves); they are spontaneous projections of assimilated symbols with which we make meaning through presentational construal--we may acquire the values in the first place through intentional construal.

Propositional Construal (language)
  • tacitly experiencing things learned, using language categories and words to make meaning.
  • associated with comprehension or cognition and involves experiencing things in terms of the concepts and categories that come with our mastery of language, although we may not consciously name or describe to ourselves what we construe (p. 34, Mezirow's book)
  • Propositional construal monitors presentational construal by introducing rational and reflective interpretations of the meaning of our propositional awareness. (p. 34, Mezirow's book)

Intentional Construal
  • when we are deliberately attempting to pose or solve a problem, describe or explain.
  • involves purposeful awareness of our use of logic, inference, analysis, reflection, evaluation, and the giving and assessing of reasons through rational discourse.
  • We engage in intentional construal when propositional or presentational construal becomes problematic.
  • Intentional construal involves either internal and/or external dialogues.
  • Intentional construal is required to transform our meaning schemes and perspectives. We do this through reflection, understood here as an apperceptive assessment of the justification for our beliefs, ideas, or feelings.

We allow our meaning system to diminish our awareness of how things really are in order to avoid anxiety, creating a zone of blocked attention and self-deception. Overcoming limited, distorted, and arbitrarily selective modes of perception and cognition through reflection on assumptions that formerly have been accepted uncritically
is central to development in adulthood. (p 5, so true.)

Uncritically assimilated presuppositions may distort our ways of
  • knowing, involving epistemic assumptions;
  • believing, involving social norms, cultural or language codes, and social ideologies;
  • feeling, involving repressed parental prohibitions from childhood that control adult feelings and behavior through anxiety.

Reflective learning involves assessment or reassessment of assumptions. Reflective learning becomes transformative whenever assumptions or premises are found to be distorting, inauthentic, or otherwise invalid. Transformative learning results in new or transformed meaning schemes or, when reflection focuses on premises, transformed meaning perspectives.

Some of these theories are classified by Hultsch and Pentz (1980) into what they see as three historical shifts in basic research in psychology on adult learning and memory. The following descriptions are based on their classification.

Associative Bond Theory (Behaviourist theories: classical conditioning, behaviourism, ... )
  • Dominant until the late 1950s
  • Learning involves the formation of stimulus-response bonds that define the contents of memory
  • Activity is the result of external stimulation
  • Changes in learning and memory are quantitative rather than qualitative
  • Increases in the number and repetition of stimulus-response associations result in retention
  • Problem solving and affective behavior can be reduced to simple phenomena governed by specific cause-effect relationships
  • Remembering involves making previously acquired responses under appropriate stimulus conditions
  • Forgetting involves the weakening of associative bonds through interference or decay. The aged are more susceptible to interference than younger people and are likely to show an irreversible decrement of learning and memory.
  • Development consists of behavior change, and later behaviors can be predicted from earlier ones
  • Research focuses on the analysis of behavioral/situational elements and the discovery of cause-effect relationships.

Information Processing Theory (Cognitive theories: cognitivism, social learning theory (partially), ...)
  • Dominant since the early 1960s.
  • Memory traces as located in three types of storage structures: sensory, short-term, and long-term stores. Material is transferred from one storage structure to another by such "control operations" as attention, rehearsal, and organization.
    • Sensory memory is described as visual or auditory copies of stimuli. These stored representations decay if not further processed. Attending to information in the sensory store transfers this information to the short-term memory store, in which information items are coded for features of sight and sound.
    • The short-term store has limited capacity, and items in it often are displaced by other information and lost. Items can be kept in the short-term store for a longer time by rehearsal or transferred to the long-term store by processing through linguistic signs.
    • The long-term memory store has unlimited capacity. Retrieval of an item from this store depends on the organization or elaboration of the material. Qualitative changes in memory are produced by processes that transfer material from one storage structure to another. Some of these processes are controlled by the individual.
  • Learning and recall is not a set of stimulus-response associations but an active totality that we organize through the various processing mechanisms. Age differences in sensory and short-term storage capacity are minimal, but there are age-related decrements in the active processing involved in learning and memory. These decrements can be modified by manipulating such variables as the organization of learning materials and instructions.
  • Development is seen as structural change, both qualitative and quantitative. Later states cannot be predicted from previous states. Research focuses on specifying age and other factors that affect memory encoding, storage, and retrieval processes.

Contextual Theories (Constructivist theories: Constructivism, Social Development Theory, Communities of Practice, Discovery Learning...)
  • Recently, a "contextual" approach to learning and memory has emerged. This approach sees experience as events that have a meaning as a whole. The quality of events is a product of transactions between the organism and its context, or the totality of events that the organism has experienced. The essence of experience is seen as continuous activity and change. What is learned and remembered depends on the various contexts of the event — psychological, social, cultural, physical — and the context within which evidence of remembering and learning is requested.
  • Learning and memory are by-products of the transaction between individual and context.
  • Understanding lies in the interfaces between psychological, linguistic, problem-solving, social, and cultural processes.
  • Memory also depends on events that follow acquisition. Events are continually constructed and reconstructed as an individual's context changes. Memory is intimately related to perception and learning, which involve the integration of novel information with past experience. Past experience provides boundary conditions for integrating and differentiating information and for determining the meaning of an event. A schema is one formulation of such boundary conditions; it is an organized representation of an event that may serve as a prototype, norm, or context. The relation of new information to past experience allows the learner to go beyond the information given.
  • Remembering is a reconstruction of past events. Its success depends on how well the materials have been articulated and integrated with past experience during the process of acquisition, which in turn depends upon the total set of experiences to which the event belongs. Remembering involves the recreation of previous events. It is enhanced if the events have been integrated well with previous knowledge and distracting events have not intervened. Remembering may be reproductive, constructive, or reconstructive and can involve a copy of an experience, the construct of the meaning of a new experience, or the reconstrual of a meaning previously assigned to an experience.
  • Research moves outward from the event into broader contexts, and inquiry is directed toward identifying and describing these transitions in context. Contextual theories focus on the nature of the events one experiences. Transformation theory is more closely allied to these theories than to the other theories of adult education described in this section.

Learning means using a meaning that we have already made to guide the way we think, act, or feel about what we are currently experiencing.
Meaning is making sense of or giving coherence to our experiences. Meaning is an interpretation.

Learning as Making Meaning. Making meaning is central to what learning is all about.
The learning process may be understood as the extension of our ability to
  • make explicit,
  • schematize (make an association within a frame of reference),
  • appropriate (accept an interpretation as our own),
  • remember (call upon an earlier interpretation),
  • validate (establish the truth, justification, appropriateness, or authenticity of what is asserted), and
  • act upon (decide, change an attitude toward, modify a perspective on, or perform) some aspect of our engagement with the environment, other persons, or ourselves.
Learning always involves making a new experience explicit and schematizing, appropriating, and acting upon it. We seek validation when, in the process of interpreting an experience, we find reason to question the truth, appropriateness, or authenticity of either a newly expressed or implied idea or one acquired through prior learning.

Learning and TL
  • Learning is a dialectical process of interpretation in which we interact with objects and events, guided by an old set of expectations--we use our established expectations to explicate and construe what we perceive to be the nature of a facet of experience that hitherto has lacked clarity or has been misinterpreted.
  • In transformative learning, we reinterpret an old experience (or a new one) from a new set of expectations, thus giving a new meaning and perspective to the old experience.

When we confront an aspect of an encounter that we do not understand, our expectations from prior learning serve as habits of selective perception that govern,
  • first, how we delimit the experience and,
  • second, how we select those elements of it that past experience tells us may be relevant to understanding.
We have to sort through our past experience, that is, the alternative interpretations currently available to us, in order to assess what is relevant. Thus the way our prior experience is organized and the way we interpret its relevance become central to making a new interpretation.

Defining Learning in TL
  • Learning may be understood as the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or a revised interpretation of the meaning of one's experience in order to guide future action. We use our revised interpretations to guide future action (making a decision, making an association, revising a point of view, reframing or solving a problem, modifying an attitude, or producing a change in behavior). Action in transformation theory is not only behavior, the effect of a cause, but rather "praxis," the creative implementation of a purpose.
  • Remembering is central to learning because we learn with our old interpretations. Any new or revised interpretation also must be remembered for subsequent use in making extrapolations, analysis, syntheses, generalizations, or judgments.
  • If an interpretation is not remembered, it implies thinking but not learning. Interpretation here means offering a meaning of something. Interpretation can also mean drawing inferences from or explaining something. An interpretation is a meaningful construal of experience. An interpretation is meaningful in either case because the learner finds points of relevance in it to which he or she can relate.
  • Comprehension is a process of making an experience coherent by using categories acquired through language.
  • Thinking and learning are overlapping terms. Thinking here refers to the immediate, conscious psychological processes of associating, differentiating, imagining, and inferring. Interpretations may be the result of intentional thought, but often they also incorporate culturally assimilated or "tacit" learning.
  • Learning involves using thought processes to make or revise an interpretation in a new context, applying the knowledge resulting from prior thought and/or prior tacit learning to construe meaning in a new encounter.

Example: We unintentionally and unreflectively learn to reinforce responses because they have significance and meaning for us. Emotions are interpretations of the meaning of feeling. Feelings and impulses become transformed into emotions as we learn how to interpret what they mean in relation to others and to ourselves.

The Contexts of Learning
Transformation Theory asserts that learning is best understood as an activity resulting from social interaction that involves goals, actions, and conditions under which goal-directed actions are carried out, all of which must be taken into account. It is important to understand that learning always involves the following five primary interacting contexts:
  1. The frame of reference or meaning perspective in which the learning is embedded
  2. The conditions of communication: language mastery; the codes that delimit categories, constructs, and labels; and the ways in which problematic assertions are validated
  3. The line of action in which learning occurs (implementing the purpose and intentionality of the learner and involves the exercise of his or her conative power)
  4. The self-image of the learner
  5. The situation encountered, that is, the external circumstances within which an interpretation is made and remembered.
Structural linguistics suggests (p. 17)
  • Linguistic signs involve both what is signified (a sound or visual image) and the signified meaning. There is no necessary relationship between the two parts; theoretically, any signifier can represent any signified concept. For example, an object is identified by totally different words in different languages, and some languages have no names for some objects or events.
  • Symbols
    • Some symbols involve a rationally meaningful relationship between the two parts. A blindfolded woman holding scales symbolizes justice; other symbols do not.
    • Symbols are forms that embody significance.
    • They also imply an "ideal form" of what they symbolize. The ideal justice suggested by the symbol has qualities of equity, retribution, fairness, and responsibility. Each of these characteristics also implies an ideal.
    • Symbols not only denote; they also exemplify. Symbols do not represent but rather directly present the substantive qualities to which they refer. These qualities and the ideals they imply are projected upon objects and events as these are perceived. Even before we intentionally cognitively examine the nature of objects or events, we have assigned meaning to them.
    • Symbols are not projected into an objective reality but rather mediate the constitution of experience and the objective sense of reality itself. Symbols thus are the form and substance as well as the medium and outcome of experiences. As Parsons says, "Linguisitic signs represent reality; symbols present a world" (p. 13).

Daniel Goleman (1985b) reminds us that every act of perception is an act of selection: the incompatibility of attention and anxiety teaches us to exchange diminished attention for lessened anxiety, and this trade-off profoundly shapes our experience. Goleman bases his thesis on the following three premises (p. 24):
  • The mind can protect itself against anxiety by dimming awareness.
  • This mechanism creates a "blind spot," a zone of blocked attention and self-deception.
  • Such blind spots occur at each major level of behavior, from the psychological to the social.


Goleman's thesis and premises provide the psychological imperative for a transformative theory of learning. Goleman makes it clear that often adult learning is predicated upon distortions the assumptions of which need to be reflected upon and assessed for its justification.
R. D. Laing's "knots," The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
The idealized symbol system is projected onto the external stimuli to form the image in the mind. Thus the qualities and features that the symbol system imposes on the perceived object are actually what is perceived, and it is this "loaded" perception that is objectified through speech. Language is a system of ideal objects expressed in the form of linguistic signs.
There is no direct relationship between language and the actual things of the external world.
The Soviet psycholinguist A. A. Leont'ev (quoted in Wertsch, 1979) contends that signs consist of three elements and meaning presented in consciousness is the result of these three elements. Meanings do not exist for individuals outside of these subjective reflections, which maybe in the form of visual or other perceptual images.
  1. "objective content," the system of connections and relations of objects and phenomena in external reality.
  2. ideal loading, or "ideal content."
  3. subject's social experience, which is projected onto the sign in his or her consciousness— the "subjective content."

Although symbolic consciousness has its locus in perception, we can use reflection to assert our control over many of these "conventions of the senses," delineate these cultural symbols, and disengage them from our experience. Although symbolic consciousness has its locus in perception, we can use reflection to assert our control over many of these "conventions of the senses," delineate these cultural symbols, and disengage them from our experience. For Parsons and for transformation theory, consciousness is not an inner state; it is a form of action that actualizes the qualities of symbolic models as objects of experience. The intentionality of perception becomes lost when perceptual learning becomes objectified as "categories of the mind." The task of education is to reactivate the intentionality implicit in perception.
We learn not only from our experience but by shaping things to our existing categories of understanding, interpreting the unfamiliar to fit the psychological, cultural, and linguistic constraints of our current frame of reference. (p. 26) [Is that the same as assimilation?]

Both the statements derived from the imaginative projection of symbolic models that we use to make interpretations and the inferences that we make in analyzing our interpretations involve assumptions that require validity testing through rational discourse with others in order to arrive at an informed consensus. Giddens points out that "rationality presumes communication because something is rational only if it meets the conditions necessary to forge an understanding with at least one other person" (Bernstein, 1985, p. 99). Habermas believes that rationality lies in the process of achieving mutual understanding by active participation in advancing and objectively weighing evidence and assessing the cogency of supporting arguments. To say that someone is acting rationally or that a statement is rational means that the action or the statement can be criticized or defended by those involved so that it may be justified. (p. 26) [Why does it have to be rational? What are some statements or actions that are not rational?]

Transformational Logic (link) [Same as in Mezirow's book on pages 26/27, but a little clearer.]
The five steps are:
  1. Conflict: A sense of puzzlement or problem that becomes conscious.
  2. Pause or Interlude for Scanning: A period of time when solutions are sought, a time for “waiting, wondering, following hunches, and exhausting the possibilities.”
  3. Constructive Act of Imagination or Insight: an experience (often sudden) of the convergence of ideas and resolution, a moment when apparently disparate elements fall into meaningful order and a new perception is created.
  4. Release and Opening: A release of energy occurs that has been contained and accumulated during the time of conflict and scanning. As energy is released, the person has a sense of opening to his/her wider context as consciousness expands.
  5. Interpretation and Witness: With newfound insight and energy, a person then engages in a period of testing, sharing and inter‐preting her/his new perspective with others.

Transformation theory describes memory as the process in which an object or event that we have previously interpreted through projection of our symbolic models, in accordance with acquired habits of expectation or meaning perspectives, is re-cognized when it appears in our experience again. We imaginatively reconstruct an earlier meaning by the same process of projection, interpreting what we know in the new and unfamiliar situational context.

The Dynamics of Making Meaning (page 31)
  • Remembering involves a reconstrual of the way we imaginatively project symbols to make meaning when we encountered similar sense experiences earlier.
  • Rationality is a process of assessing the reasons and justification for a meaning scheme. This may involve a review of empirical evidence or a best judgment made through an informed consensus.
  • Learning involves construing and appropriating a new or revised interpretation for guiding action.
  • Interpretations are articulations of meaning schemes and involve assumptions that adults in modern society find necessary to validate. Justification of assumptions often involves consensual validation through critical discourse.

Interpretation, (Mezirow, 1991, Chapter 1, page 32)

Outer to Inner part of the diagram.(page 33)
  1. We project symbolic models (outermost area) as we perceive objects or events by scanning and then construing.
  2. We resort first to presentational construal and then, if necessary, to propositional construal. Meaning is made both perceptually and cognitively.
  3. To move from a perceptual interpretation to a cognitive interpretation requires propositional construal (monitored by presentational awareness) and an imaginative insight. Propositional (cognitive) construal may give coherence to either a new experience or an old one as it becomes validated through reflective assessment.

Influences on the process of making meaning are shown on the bottom part of the diagram
  • The process is influenced by meaning perspectives and by the learner's line of action, which provides intention, direction, and drive.
  • Meaning perspectives are sets of habits of expectation that filter perception and cognition.
  • These habits of expectation may be predominantly sociolinguistic, epistemic, or psychological.
My interpretation of TL

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. CA

Chapter 2, Meaning Perspectives: How We Understand Experience, p. 37-63.

  • Our meaning perspectives filter the way we project our symbolic models imaginatively to construe what is presented through our senses.
  • Meaning perspectives also influence what we remember. If an experience provides interpretations that are compatible with, extend, or help to integrate our meaning perspectives, we are more likely to perceive and remember it. If the emotional stress of a conflict of beliefs causes us to transform a meaning perspective dramatically, that transformation will be remembered. The most significant transformations in learning are transformations of meaning perspectives.

Karl Popper--Horizons of Expectations
  • "In this way, science appears clearly as a straight forward continuation of the pre-scientific repair-work on our horizons of expectations. Science never starts from a scratch; it can never be described as free from assumptions, for at every instant it presupposes a horizon of expectations--yesterday\s forizon of expectations, as it were. Today's science is built upon yesterday's science (and so it is the result of yesterday's searchlight) and yesterday's science, in turn, is based on the science of the day before. And the oldest scientific theories are built on pre-scientific myths, and these, in their turn, on still older expectations" from Research Methodology In History By Tej Ram Sharma, page 100
  • According to Popper, we learn in order to change the structure of our expectations rather than to fill in gaps in knowledge.New knowledge resulting from problem solving is a correction rather than an extension of old knowledge. (p. 39)
  • Gestalt Theory
    • The basic idea of their learning theory was that a gestalt is changed under the pressure of a problem so that the substance previously making up the old gestalt forms a new one. The problem was seen as an incomplete gestalt, and the solution was the "closure" of the gestalt. The process of altering a gestalt was called insight. Insight involved a "recentering" of a gestalt such that a problem situation was redefined to include the problem's potential solution.
    • BUT Popper and transformation theory differs a bit because new knowledge involves a negation and transformation of past beliefs.
-we develop cognitive skills in order to manipulate the world to our advantage
-we are compelled to learn by our search for a coherent and complete horizon of expectations.
-centrally concerned with the growth of intelligence
-focused upon the generation of knowledge
-intellectual development may involve the rejection of some false views
-saw rejection of false views as a by-product of efforts to develop cognitive skills, which improve as the result of both maturation and our need to master the environment.
-gaining of higher-level skills does not involve rejection of the lower; rather, lower-level skills are incorporated into higher level ones. Skills can into disuse but cannot be rejected.
-holds that the negation of beliefs are the central dynamic of progress

Testing Assumptions: Popper and transformation theorists agree that our efforts to understand the world generate the continuous testing of our most fundamental assumptions, not merely the testing of our attempts to extend our knowledge.

Mezirow/s (2000) Revised Transformative Learning Theory, (Kitchenham, 2008)

Frame of Reference
  • A frame of reference that is more dependable
    • produces interpretations and opinions that are more likely to be justified (through discursive assessment) or
    • true (through empirical assessment) than those predicated on a less dependable frame of reference.
  • A more dependable frame of reference is one that is more inclusive, differentiating, permeable (open to other viewpoints), critically reflective of assumptions, emotionally capable of change, and integrative of experience. Insofar as experience and circumstance permit, we move toward more dependable frames of reference to better understand our experience. (Mezirow, 2000, page 19, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)

Meaning Schemes
  • and meaning schemes (knowledge, beliefs, value judgments, and feelings that constitute a specific interpretation) are specific habits of expectation. (page 61)
  • the particular attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, value judgments, and feelings involved in making interpretation (link)
  • The constellation of concept, belief, judgment, and feelings which shapes a particular interpretation (link)
  • they are expressed as "points of view"
  • symbolic models (such as images) which we project upon sense impressions of the world in order to construe meaning and habitual expectation. (link)
  • Specific assumptions, beliefs, values, and habitual expectations. Often uncritically assimilated. Often inarticulate. Clusters of meaning schemes make
    up meaning perspectives (link to a pdf)

Habits of Mind
  • A newer term used by Jack Mezirow. Similar to meaning perspectives. The “grooves” our mind runs in.
  • Habits of mind are a way of thinking influenced by one’s sociolinguistic, epistemic, psychological, moral-ethical, philosophical, aesthetic, or religion…
  • It is important to note that people can change their points of view “by trying on another’s point of view” (Mezirow, 2000, p. 21). One cannot, however, try on
    someone else’s habit of mind. (The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, Kitchenham, 2008)
  • Habits of mind include
    • conservative or liberal orientation;
    • tendency to move toward or away from people;
    • approaching the unknown fearful or confident;
    • preference to work alone or with others;
    • ethnocentricity (seeing people different from your group negatively or as inferior);
    • tendency to respect or challenge authority;
    • thinking like a scientist, soldier, lawyer, or adult educator;
    • interpreting behavior as a Freudian or a Jungian;
    • approaching a problem analytically or intuitively;
    • focusing on a problem from whole to parts or vice versa;
    • introversion or extroversion;
    • patterns of acting as a perfectionist, victim, or incompetent;
    • fear of change;
    • thinking conventionally about one's roles;
    • occupational, disciplinary, religious, educational, capitalist, Marxist, or postmodernist;
    • many other orientations and worldviews. (Mezirow, 2000, page 18, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)

Point of view
  • A newer term. The way we express or demonstrate our habits of mind in interaction with others. Often unexamined or unconscious.
  • People express their habits of mind through their point of view.
  • A point of view comprises clusters of meaning schemes—sets of immediate specific expectations, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and judgments—that tacitly direct and shape a specific interpretation and determine how we judge, typify objects, and attribute causality. (Mezirow, 2000, page 18, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)
  • Other points of view are judged against the standards set by our points of view. Viewpoints that call our frames of reference into question may be dismissed as distorting, deceptive, ill intentioned, or crazy. (Mezirow, 2000, page 18, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)

Meaning Perspectives
  • Meaning perspectives are rule systems of habitual expectation (orientations, personal paradigms) (page 61)
  • Clusters of meaning schemes which constitute an over arching perspective or a rule system for guiding behaviour and action (link)
  • Mezirow refers to meaning perspectives as 'habits of mind" (link)
  • assumptions and expectations through which we filter sense impression (Mezirow, 2000, 16)
  • more encompassing than meaning schemes and provide general frames of reference, or world views, and involve "a collection of higher-order schemata, theories, propositions, beliefs, prototypes, goal orientations and evaluations" (link)
  • Broad, generalized ways of seeing the world. May have to do with professional knowledge, social views, spiritual beliefs, self-concept, aesthetic preferences, morality, philosophy of life.(link to a pdf)
  • the structure of cultural and psychological assumptions within which our past experience assimilates and transforms new experience. (The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, Kitchenham, 2008)
  • In addition to providing a framework for classifying experience, they are informed by a horizon of possibility that is being anticipated and that represents value assumptions regarding ends, norms, and criteria of judgment. (page 62)
  • Because meaning perspectives are structures of largely prerational, unarticulated presuppositions, they often result in distorted views of reality. Negation or transformation of inadequate, false, distorted, or limited meaning perspectives or schemes is central to adult learning; this involves the testing of fundamental assumptions rather than mere extension of knowledge. Meaning perspectives and schemes can be transformed through a reflective assessment and critique of the presuppositions upon which they are based.(page 62)
  • Meaning schemes commonly operate outside of awareness. They arbitrarily determine what we see and how we see it—cause-effect relationships, scenarios of sequences of events, what others will be like, and our idealized self-image. They suggest a line of action that we tend to follow automatically unless brought into critical reflection. (Mezirow, 2000, page 18, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)
  • Key terms, such as meaning perspective, have been replaced by frame of reference (Wiessner & Mezirow, 2000, Theory building and the search for common ground, page 345, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)
  • A frame of reference that is more dependable
    • produces interpretations and opinions that are more likely to be justified (through discursive assessment) or
    • true (through empirical assessment) than those predicated on a less dependable frame of reference.
  • A more dependable frame of reference is one that is more inclusive, differentiating, permeable (open to other viewpoints), critically reflective of assumptions, emotionally capable of change, and integrative of experience. Insofar as experience and circumstance permit, we move toward more dependable frames of reference to better understand our experience. (Mezirow, 2000, page 19, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)

  • We learn in order to add to, extend, or change the structure of our expectations, that is, our meaning perspectives and schemes; learning to change these structures of meaning is fundamentally transformative. (page 62)

Example, (Mezirow's book, 1991, page 44)
  • meaning perspective = ethnocentrism (the basic suspicion of others different from oneself or one's group, is central to the formation of a sociolinguistic meaning perspective)
  • meaning schemes = specific negative racial and sexual stereotypes can be recognized as meaning schemes within that perspective that prepare us for particular actions such as shunning someone of a certain race or sex.

Example 1, to help clarify the difference between habits of mind and points of view. (from: The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, Kitchenham, 2008)
  • Teacher A can share the point of view that a PowerPoint presentation can replace an overhead projector presentation. However, this does not mean that she has adopted Teacher B’s constructivist position of educational technology’s role in the classroom (habit of mind).
  • Teacher B believes that all present media (e.g., overhead projector, video recorder and television, blackboard) should be replaced by a laptop and a data projector.
  • Teacher A could easily duplicate the replacement of the media (point of view) but not Teacher B’s belief system underlying that replacement (habit of mind). This distinction between point of view and habit of mind is often critical, as it is here when considering the implementation of the effective use of educational technology.

Example 2, (from: The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, Kitchenham, 2008)
A teacher might ask, “What do I believe I can do with PowerPoint in my Grade 6 class, given my knowledge and past experiences?”
  • Process reflection causes a person to consider the aetiology of actions and whether there are other factors yet to be unveiled; this form of reflection might also transform meaning schemes. For instance, a teacher might ask, “What were the positive and negative factors when students created PowerPoint projects that will assist me in planning the lessons for this new program?”
  • Premise reflection requires the person to see the larger view of what is operating within his or her value system, for instance, and could transform a meaning perspective rather than a meaning scheme . For example, the teacher might ask, “Why is using PowerPoint so important to me at this time in my career when I could use the same strategies I have used for 20 years?” Thus, critical reflection is the process of premise reflecting). In other words, learners can transform an individual meaning scheme by examining previous actions (content reflection or learning within meaning schemes) or where the actions and their related factors originated (process reflection or learning new meaning schemes), but when they consider a more global view, the reflection is much deeper, more complex, and involves transforming a series of meaning schemes (premise reflection or learning through meaning transformation).
  • In short, there are two types of transformation: straightforward transformation of a meaning scheme, which occurs through content and process reflection, and a much more profound transformation of a set of meaning schemes (i.e., meaning perspective) by critically reflecting on premises.

Factors Shaping Meaning Perspectives. (page 43, Mezirow's book; * from Learning to Think like an Adult, Mezirow, 2000, in the reading list; from Wiessner & Mezirow, 2000, Theory building and the search for common ground, page 349, in the reading list)

Sociolinguistic Perspectives
Psychological Perspectives
Aesthetic *
-Developmental stage perspectives
-Cognitive/learning/intelligence styles
-Sensory learning preferences
-Frequency of events to identify patterns
-Scope of awareness
-External/internal evaluation criteria
-Global/detail focus
-Concrete/abstract thinking
-Social norms/roles
-Cultural/language codes
-Language/truth games
-Common sense as cultural system
-Secondary socialization
-cultural canon*
-ideologies, social norms*
-secondary socialization*
-Locus of control
-Tolerance of ambiguity
-Lost functions—childhood prohibitions enforced by anxiety in adulthood
-Psychological defense mechanisms
-Neurotic needs
-Characterological preferences
-personality traits or types*
-repressed parental prohibitions that continue to dictate ways of feeling and acting in adulthood*
-emotional response patterns*
-religious doctrine*
-transcendental world view)
-moral -norms*
about beauty and the insight and authenticity of aesthetic expressions, such as the sublime, the ugly, thetragic, the humorous, the "drab", and others

Perceptual Filters
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Little story that illustrates perceptual filters: (link)

  • Penelope is a good friend of mine. She has a handsome husband, Kevin, who in some ways is almost perfect. He comes home right after work and plays with the kids, giving her a break. He’s a fledgling poet and writes her love poems from time to time, and he even brings her flowers once a month or so. They talk about things and Kevin is a good listener. However, Penelope has a "problem." She often fears that Kevin will leave her for another woman. While he's at work, she’d think maybe he was flirting with his secretary and she’d start to get mad at him. Then when he walked through the door in the evening, she would be cold to him or pick a fight just because of her own fears during the day. When they would put the kids to bed and then snuggle on the couch, she would often feel distant and unable to enjoy intimacy because of her fears that he would leave her sooner or later. Penelope wanted to know why, when she had almost the perfect marriage, she couldn’t just relax and enjoy it. Even though there was no evidence he was cheating on her, no late nights at work, no strange perfumes or lipstick marks, she was at times almost tormented by her fears and angers about him possibly leaving her.
  • Eventually, she went to a therapist, and began to understand what was happening. She remembered when she was five her father used to come home every day from work and lift her in the air and spin her around and give her a big hug. She loved to play with Dad that way and would look forward to him walking through the door. Then one day he didn’t walk through the door. She didn’t know why and she didn’t know why her Mommy was crying when she asked about it. The next day, he didn’t come home either, and Penelope began to understand that something horrible had happened. In fact, her father had abandoned the family. He had been fighting with the Mom a lot and one day when she was five he left, never to return or call. Penelope was crushed. At five years of age she felt awfully sad and lonely, and after listening to her mom rant and rage about her dad she figured something out about life that changed her forever. She figured out that "Men can’t be trusted. Men leave." And with the emotional force of her hurt feelings she imprinted herself with that perceptual filter.
  • One of the first things to understand about developing emotional IQ has to do with perceptual filters. Perceptual filters are unconscious, they are very powerful, and can affect our lives tremendously for good or ill. They are like blue sunglasses, they make the world look a certain way to us even though its just the filter, the sunglasses that are blue, not the things we actually look at. Perceptual filters operate "before" the conscious mind, filtering what we perceive so that the world shows up a particular way. Now, Penelope at the age of 5 didn’t just think a few angry thoughts about her dad and how men can’t be trusted. She had an internal shift inside, she found a way to avoid feeling all that pain and the anguish of loss. She ‘figured something out about the world.’ "Ah, I know, I hurt this much because I hadn’t figured it out. Now I ‘know.’ Men can’t be trusted.’ I'll have to be careful around them!" That internal process, imprinted by the force of her anguish and loss, shifted the way she saw the world. She didn’t go around thinking about it, it wasn’t some mental decision, it was an actual ‘ontological shift’ in the way she was being in the world. Thereafter, men showed up for her differently. They could and would be lovely and entertaining and fascinating and interesting, but they’d leave. Underneath it all, she just knew this to be true, this is just the way things are, like she’d figured out that trees were a color called green and water was blue

Roth's classification provides a useful typology of some significant sources, distortions, and limitations of meaning perspectives. (page 45, Mezirow's book)

  1. Objects, enduring physical structures: subject to an individual's power (or not); changeability. [Psychological]
  2. Persons: similar to self; different from self, and serve as sources of reward and punishment; similar to nonhuman physical objects (a sociopathic perception); subject to individual's power; understandable through patterned behavior, through attributed attitude. [Sociolinguistic]
  3. Ways of learning: relative priority of reward and punishment in the learning process; sensory avenues (seeing, hearing, doing); temporal sequences (how often does something have to happen to consider it a pattern; attending to similarities and differences). [Epistemic]
  4. Microstructure of attentional processes: clarity of detail, attention to outlines and boundaries, sharpness of differentiation between figure and ground; narrowness or expansiveness of field of awareness; relative emphasis on larger forms and global percepts versus details and specifics. [Epistemic]
  5. Temporal structuring: tempo, speed of passage, perception of flow, narrowness of temporal focus, time as figure or ground. [Epistemic]
  6. Organization of behavioral sequences: approach versus avoidance; source of outcome specifications and values — external versus internal. [Psychological]

Paradigm (p. 46, Mezirow's book)

  • a collection of ways of seeing, methods of inquiry, beliefs, ideas, values, and attitudes that influence the conduct of scientific inquiry.
  • synonym for model, conceptual framework, approach, and worldview.
  • that which we look through rather than look at in viewing the world
  • Mezirow thinks of a paradigm as an articulated, theory-based, collectively held meaning perspective.


  • a shared definition of a situation that organizes and governs social interaction.
  • A frame tells us the context of a social situation and how to understand and behave in it. We act differently, for example, depending on whether we are at a play, in a religious service, at an athletic event, on a date, or in a negotiating session.
  • Frames are collectively held meaning perspectives that, unlike paradigms, are tacit.

Schemas (p. 48/49)

  • (Note: Transformative Theory uses habits of expectation (I think this is also habits of mind) and meaning schemes rather than schemas or "modules of memory" selectively determine the scope of our attention and hence perception and arbitrarily determine the way we categorize objects and events, make associations, and attribute causality within a value system.)
  • Some of what other authors have called schemas may be better understood as symbolic models, which are organized by and projected through mediating meaning perspectives, as dictated by a line of action; their projection results in an interpretation or meaning scheme. Other schemas are sets of habits of expectation or meaning perspectives. Transformation theory also differentiates between schemas that are dependent upon language categories and those that are not. (page 62)
  • as organized representations of an event that serve as prototypes or norms for what is expected.
  • Schemas, like meaning perspectives, are supposed to guide the way in which we experience, feel, understand, judge, and act upon particular situations.
  • often differentiated from concept. Concept is used to refer to a "mental structure" having a dynamic or relational aspect.
  • When schemas are used to understand the social world, they are often differentiated from propositional statements and belief systems.
  • Event sequence schemas are sometimes referred to as "scripts" (when we open our front door and step out of the house, we expect to step down onto the walk leading to the street; we do not expect to step into the mouth of a whale).
  • Person-prototype schemas, sometimes called "personae," are essentially stereotypes but without the negative connotation of that term
  • Taxonomic, implicational, cause-oriented, and goal-oriented schemas also have been identified in studies of text comprehension
  • TL schemas are not about: schemas that pertain to time, space, direction, dimension, sequence, and entity from schemas that depend upon the mastery of language
  • TL schemas are about: reflect developmental stage perspectives, cognitive and learning styles, and perceptual filters as well as social ideologies, professional or academic disciplines, cultural and language codes, self-concepts, introjected value systems, and predispositions shaped by personality and neurosis.
  • schemas are the "the structures memories are stored in" and as guiding analysis of sensory input, simplifying, organizing, and deleting what is not salient.
  • When they function in this way, schemas are "lions at the gates of awareness" and "the building blocks of cognition," embodying the categories and rules that order new experience. They set priorities, determine relevance, and determine the focus of attention and what will enter our awareness. All this occurs outside of consciousness as the regulatory function of tacit learning by which we actively select what we will attend to according to criteria of perceived need, interest, and perceptual prominence.
  • Only those schemas most activated in the preconscious reach consciousness. In the terms of Goleman's cognitive psychology, our brains use schemas to scan and filter stimuli and either relegate them to long-term memory, which may lead to an unconscious response (an experienced typist finding the correct keys on a typewriter), or move them into awareness and possible conscious response.
  • According to Goleman, we also use our repertoire of schemas to classify objects and events.
  • Schemas and attention interact in an intricate dance. Attention to one facet of experience— it is lunchtime, say, and you are hungry — activates other relevant schemas — thoughts of nearby restaurants, say, or what is at hand in the refrigerator. The schemas, in turn, guide attention. If you walk down the street with these schemas active, your focus will be on the restaurants, not the other kinds of shops on the street; if you go to the refrigerator, your attention will fix on the cold cuts, not the roast for the evening meal. Schemas choose this and not that; they determine the scope of attention. The interplay between attention and schemas puts them at the heart of the matter of self-deception. Schemas not only determine what we will notice; they also can determine what we do not notice.
  • BUT...
    • transformation theory, habits of expectation (I think this is also habits of mind) and meaning schemes rather than schemas or "modules of memory" selectively determine the scope of our attention and hence perception and arbitrarily determine the way we categorize objects and events, make associations, and attribute causality within a value system.
    • They provide the basis for reducing complex inferential tasks to simple judgments.
    • They "set us up" with specific expectations pertaining to cause-effect relationships, scenarios of sequences of events, goal orientations, and what others will be like (Archie Bunker, used car salesman, mother-in-law, wimp).
    • These interpretations are always generalized and make provision for exceptions under particular circumstances. Nevertheless, they tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
    • However closed a schema or meaning perspective may be, we are not locked into Popper's "myth of the framework," which holds that we become so trapped by our radically different perspectives that communication is impossible. We can enter into rational discourse, albeit with difficulty, because there is always some overlap between meaning perspectives in terms of observations, concepts, problems, or standards.

Invisible Gorilla
Invisible Gorilla

Lacunas or "patchess of meaninglessness (p. 50/51)

  • Because of the need to avoid threatening information, we narrow our perception, and blind spots—what Goleman refers to as "lacunas" and Fingarette calls "patches of meaninglessness" — arise. They operate on attention to filter the flow of information and come to define the shape of both perception and responses. This results in character formation. "The attentional patterns learned in childhood become self-perpetuating; once a certain expectation of threat is learned, the person becomes disposed to look for it and find it — or look away to avoid it"
  • We trade off awareness for avoidance of anxiety when new experiences are inconsistent with our habits of expectation, which can result in areas of meaninglessness. To provide meaning, we may resort to the psychological mechanisms of self deception. (page 62)
  • Goleman sees the cardinal human need as being for comprehension that is undistorted by the defensive avoidance of anxiety and for mentors who will not collude with learners' denial of anxiety-provoking information, their self-deceptions, or their shared social illusions.

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Personal Constructs (p. 52)

  • "personal constructs," which fulfill some of the same functions as meaning perspectives in that they are defined as templates that human beings create and attempt to fit over their realities.
  • Constructs do not "represent" or symbolize events but rather represent distinctions between events. They are reference axes that enable us to place and sequence events into arrays and scales, to distinguish among elements of those events and group them by distinguishing polar opposites. Normally, personal construct systems become modified as our expectations of events are either confirmed or found wanting. If they are not modified, they become less realistic.
  • Variation in a construct system is limited by its permeability or openness to new elements and new subordinate constructs.
  • Shared constructs are the basis for social interaction.

A person's processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he anticipates events." He advances the following corollaries:

  1. A person anticipates events by construing their replications. [That is, we repeat an earlier construal when we encounter an event similar to one encountered before. We posture ourselves to make the same sense of the event we made before.]
  2. Persons differ from each other in their constructions of events.
  3. Each person characteristically evolves, for his convenience in anticipating events, a construction system embracing ordinal relationships between constructs.
  4. A person's construction system is composed of a finite number of dichotomous constructs.
  5. A person chooses for himself that alternative in a dichotomized construct through which he anticipates the greater possibility for extension and definition of his system [chooses in favor of elaborating a system that is functional for anticipating events].
  6. A construct is convenient for the anticipation of a finite range of events only.
  7. A person's construction system varies as he successively construes the replication of events.
  8. The variation in a person's construction system is limited by the permeability of the constructs within whose ranges of convenience the variants lie. [New experiences and events can be added to those that the system already embraces.] (How open a person is to new ideas.)
  9. A person may successively employ a variety of construction systems which are inferentially incompatible with each other.
  10. To the extent that one person employs a construction of experience which is similar to that employed by another, his psychological processes are similar to those of the other person.
  11. To the extent that one person construes the construction processes of another, he may play a role in a social process involving the other person. [pp. 103-104]

  • Perspective transformation is never complete until action based upon the transformative insights has been taken. (p. 56)
  • Transformative learning is learning through action, and the beginning of the action learning process is deciding to appropriate a different meaning perspective.
    What is action then? If you don't feel safe enough to involve yourself in action, yet your meaning perspective have been transformed as a result of critical reflection on premises, do we discount the transformation and only call it change rather than perspective transformation????

Cultural Content of Language (p. 57/8)

  • Knowledge is a function of association and communication.
  • Symbolic constructs and methods of understanding that are culturally transmitted, developed, and sanctioned.
  • Cultural codes regulate patterns of thought and behavior.
  • "The range of intentional awareness, the ability to make complex interpretations, and the possibility of imaging alternative future possibilities are all restricted by limited language codes that communicate a life world of recipe knowledge." Norms, rules, institutions, values, and interpretations, including such foundational categories as those that organize our thoughts in such polarities as either-or, cause-effect, or right-wrong, become embedded in language.
  • Our "language membership" constitutes a set of internalized and obligatory norms that an individual cannot manipulate effectively because their significance derives from collective rather than individual experience. Cultural codes are the tacit regulatory principles that establish power relationships and the nature of appropriate discourse both within a given body of knowledge or area of specialization and among such bodies and areas. They also are the principles behind the assumptions implicit in our social norms.
  • Foucault held that transformations in knowledge systems are not cognitive but instead emerge as the result of changing social interests that locate persons in various roles and distribute authority and responsibility differently.
  • Meanings, ideas, feelings, and concepts are not contained in words, sentences, and paragraphs or books, plays, and poems. They are in the mind of the originator of communication.
  • These systems of signs, which contain partial meaning, can stimulate a reconstruction of meanings, ideas, or feelings in the other person involved, based on his or her own experience — a different experience from that of the originator of the communication. We give meaning to experience in large part by participating in dialogue with others. This includes understanding what is valid in the assertions made by others and achieving consensual validation for our own assertions.
  • It has frequently been observed that because our reality is prestructured by our linguistic symbol systems, we do not live through language so much as language lives through us.
  • language does not merely describe things and events that we experience but constructs them.
  • Statements are not merely about objects or events but are complex utterances governed by rules that rely on implicit norms or standards — tacit knowledge — to typify experiences.

Our language binds us into a dialogue community that has common meaning perspectives concerning the contexts and meanings of words. Dialogic communities strive to achieve consensus regarding the conditions under which an expressed idea is considered to be true or valid. Dialogue is necessary to validate commonly held meanings. (page 62)

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. CA

Chapter 3, Intentional Learning: A Process of Problem Solving, p. 64-98.

The Sociolinguistic Context of Transformative Learning
(Sociolinguistic: Social norms/roles, Cultural/language codes, Language/truth games, Common sense as cultural system, Secondary socialization, Ethnocentrism, Prototypes/scripts

Validity Testing

  • reaching an understanding is the inherent purpose of human linguistic communication.
  • Being able to participate in communicative action requires a universal core of basic attitudes (includes agreed-upon ways of establishing the validity (justification) of a given communication), a tacit consensus about norms and values and fundamental rules—that is, meaning perspectives—that we must master in order to speak a language.
  • Giddens explains: "When I say something to somebody else, I implicitly make the following claims: that what I say is intelligible; that its propositional
    content is true; that I am justified in saying it; and that I speak sincerely, without intent to deceive. All of these claims are contingent or fallible, and all except the first can be criticized and grounded in by offering of reasons."
  • Habermas: application of validity criteria ="grounding"
    • grounding descriptive statements means establishing the existence of states of affairs;
    • grounding normative statements, establishing the acceptability of actions or norms of action;
    • grounding evaluative statements, establishing the preferability of values;
    • grounding expressive statements, establishing the transparency of self-presentations; and
    • grounding explicative (explicative) statements, establishing that symbolic expressions have been produced correctly
  • Our claims to valid knowledge about objective facts, social norms, and the authenticity of our subjective experience are refined through speech.
    • The meaning of sentences, and the understanding of sentence meanings, cannot be separated from language's inherent relation to the validity of statements.
    • Speakers and hearers understand the meaning of a sentence when they know under what conditions it is true.
    • Correspondingly, they understand the meaning of a word when they know what contribution it makes to the capacity for truth of a sentence formed with its help
The Processes of Validity Testing
Every phase of the validation process is affected by our meaning perspectives, which may be transformed as a result of premise reflection and this aspect of the validation process is indicated by the arrow pointing from the new interpretation to the meaning perspectives.

Movement in the validation process is dictated by the learner's purpose or line of action,

  1. Movement goes from the identification of a problem through reflection,
  2. to empirical or consensual validation, [Are there other types of validation???]
  3. to imaginative insight
  4. and to making a new interpretation

(Mezirow, 1991, page 67)

Rationality (page 67/8)

  • Rationality for Habermas is inseparable from the processes of making meaning, understanding, and testing the validity of what we communicate.
  • Rationality means validity testing by reasoning—using reasons and weighing evidence and supporting arguments — rather than by appealing to authority, tradition, or brute force.
  • Habermas rejects the traditional cognitive-instrumental concept of rationality as the process through which an individual acquires and uses knowledge to control and manipulate the environment. He sees rationality as applicable to all validity testing; our concern with making meaning by assessing the validity of statements, he says, cannot be limited to questions of propositional truths or means for attaining ends. [I see this as a problem, rooted in positivist thinking.]
  • argumentation
    • = the process of dialogue in which implicit validity claims are made explicit and contested, with an effort to criticize and vindicate them through arguments.
    • the process of applying rationality to validity testing
  • In the context of communicative action, the responsible and autonomous adult is one who is a member of a communication community that is able to participate fully in discourse devoted to assessing criticizable validity claims. [Can this always occur? lacking in education or oppressed can hinder them from participating in discourse]
  • Because validity claims can be criticized rationally, it is possible to correct mistakes and learn from them. We can not only revise errors in prior learning but challenge and revise inadequate meaning schemes and perspectives by critical reflection on the formerly unexamined assumptions that led us astray in earlier interpretations.
  • Communicative competence
    • the ability to participate in rational assessment of the evidence and arguments that support an implied or explicit claim of the validity of a linguistic communication act — that is, to apply rationality to dialogue. [this excludes a lot of people]
    • the individual's ability to negotiate meanings and purposes instead of passively accepting the social realities defined by others [so, not accepting oppressed peoples.]
    • freedom from coercion is an indispensable requirement for communicative competence

The Dynamics of Communicative Action
1. The Lifeworld

  • The following is from (Welton, M., 2005, Designing the just learning society: A critical inquiry, chapter 8)
    • is the ground of our learning capacities as human
    • ordinary conscious experience of everyday life (the lifeworld)
    • the everyday world (lifeworld)–is the intersubjective world of human experience and social action; it is the world of commonsense knowledge of everyday life
    • is constituted by the thoughts and acts of individuals and the social expressions of those thoughts and acts (e.g., laws, institutions).
    • The life-world (and its phenomena) is regarded as the primary object for study by the human sciences. Describing what the life-world consists of—that is, the structures of experience and the principles and concepts that give form and meaning to the life-world—has been the project of phenomenology
    • The society is a social construction based on how individuals experience subjectively the life-world, how they interpret it by interacting and comparing their experiences with each others
    • The background rules, assumptions, and commonsense understandings that structure how we perceive the world and how we communicate that perception to those around us. This kind of primordial, pre-reflective knowledge hovers on the periphery of consciousness, a shadowy frame to all we think and do.
  • The lifeworld has both individual and collective dimensions, which will produce similarity and difference between students in terms of their experiences, ideas, values and beliefs. In the (likely) event of disagreement arising from the acknowledgment of difference, the task of mutual interpretation is to achieve a new definition of the situation that all participants can share. If this attempt fails, ‘one is basically confronted with the alternatives of switching to strategic action, breaking off communication altogether, or recommend seeing action oriented toward reaching understanding at a different level, the level of argumentative speech’ (link)
  • Now from Mezirow's book, (page 69)
    • The symbolically prestructured world of everyday life, or "lifeworld," is a "culturally transmitted and linguistically organized stock of interpretive patterns" or perspectives.
    • This daily universe of social activity that we take for granted, this prereflective lifeworld that provides the "context forming horizon" of learning, is made up of a vast inventory of unquestioned assumptions and shared cultural convictions, including codes, norms, roles, social practices, psychological patterns of dealing with others, and individual skills.
    • Communicated through language, it provides learners with a basis from which to begin negotiating common definitions of situations.
    • The processes by which the lifeworld is reproduced— cultural reproduction, social integration, and socialization — are based upon the understanding, coordination, and sociation functions of communicative action. These functions become manifest in what Habermas calls
      • propositional,
      • illocutionary - what a person is purposefully doing when he or she makes an utterance. If I say to you, "Look out, it may explode," what I am doing is giving you a warning. The illocutionary speech act specifies "which validity claim a speaker is raising with his utterance, how he is raising it, and for what." Illocutionary
        acts have an internal connection with reasons, and this infuses them with the inherent possibility of mutual recognition based on insight rather than on external force.
      • expressive speech acts

2. Learning

  • Through our capacity to become critically reflective we can diminish the "prejudgmental power" of the lifeworld over communicative practice in everyday life
  • If meaning is understood when we know under what conditions an expressed idea is true, as Habermas suggests, we must attend closely to the process of validity testing in order to learn.
  • In dialogue what we say most commonly involves either descriptive, normative, or expressive contents. The validity of these contents can be challenged through argumentative discourse that raises questions of truth, justice, and self-deception respectively.
  • It is through the five forms of critical discourse that the validity of a speech act is called into question that the learner has the opportunity to make a new interpretation of his or her experience, which in turn can transform meaning schemes and perspectives. The three major types of discourse.
    • theoretical discourse
      • pertains to knowledge we hold about the world
      • Claims to truth may be validated by empirical tests.
    • practical discourse
      • utterances that involve social norms, ideals, values, and moral decisions.
      • When these are challenged, it is not their truth but their rightness (or the rightness of the norms used as standards) that is at issue.
      • Validation of claims in practical discourse is achieved by a consensus arrived atthrough rational dialogue.
    • Therapeutic discourse
      • involve feelings or intent and pertain to a person's subjectivity.
      • They may be challenged in terms of their authenticity.
      • attempts to determine whether they indeed represent true feelings or intentions or instead involve falsehood or self-deception.
    • aesthetic criticism
      • which challenges the value standards implicit in any effort to interpret feelings and desires.
    • explicative discourse (explanatory)
      • which raises questions about the comprehensibility or rightness of linguistic expressions
  • For Habermas, the very idea of developing an individual sense of identity centers around the ability to realize one's potential for critical self-reflection.
  • Habermas adapts the Piagetian concept of "decentration" as the process of moving away from an egocentric understanding of the world toward a progressive willingness and ability to participate in rational argument about the validity of what is communicated. When a person becomes decentered, "Communicatively achieved understanding" replaces the willingness to take for granted the "normatively ascribed agreement" prescribed by the background convictions of the lifeworld. Rationality applied to communication relates a decentered understanding of the world to the possibility of participating in discourse to assess criticizable validity claims.

3. Social Interaction (page 71)

  • the self-regulating system of society and social interaction, the patterns of material reproduction, that serve as a "boundary-maintenance system" of the lifeworld. Traditional cultures usually involve closed worldviews. Through social evolution and the decentering of worldviews, modern cultures generally are more open to modification in the light of their members' learning experiences. The more advanced the decentering process, the less assured is a consensus predicated only upon established beliefs and codes of behavior.
  • "Mechanisms of modernity,"
    • the organization of exchange relations in a market economy and the institutionalization of political power in public bureaucracies, tend to become quasi-autonomous subsystems that organize and steer social interaction in ways that can corrupt the process of seeking mutual understanding through rationally settling validity claims.
    • Professionalization has emerged as a further barrier to fostering critically reflective dialogue among ordinary people in everyday life.
    • Rather than active agents seeking mutual understanding of their world, adults become "clients," citizens are reduced to objects of mass manipulation, and workers become commodified. These "system" forces tend to subjugate or "colonize" the lifeworld and to distort rational decision making and adult learning processes.Social integration and the supports that the economy and public policy require become jeopardized.
  • The encroachment of economic and administrative subsystems on communicative interaction can be suffocating. Nonetheless, there is a potential for emancipation and resistance through social movements concerned with the quality of life: the civil rights, ecology, peace, women's, popular democracy, and other movements concerned with maintaining the essential conditions for active participation in critically reflective dialogue by all. Habermas deems it essential that we develop the institutions and the communicative competence necessary to secure an effectively functioning public sphere in which practical questions can be resolved through public discussion and decided on the basis of discursively achieved agreement.

I. Instrumental Learning (page 73)

Sherlock Holmes: "Brilliant deduction, Watson. "
Sherlock Holmes: "Brilliant deduction, Watson. "

  • a process where one learns to act in a certain way that is rewarding. That is, we learn a response because it is instrumental to obtaining a reward. This is the familiar way we get children to learn good behaviors—“eat your vegetables and you’ll get desert,” we tell them. (link)
  • Instrumental knowledge: Scientific cause-and-effect knowledge. Objective and invariant. Consists of principles, rules, technical information. Derived from scientific methodologies.the technical or "work" area, concerns the ways we control and manipulate our environment, including other people
  • This involves "instrumental" — or, in the case of controlling or manipulating people, "strategic"— action.
  • Instrumental action always involves predictions about observable events, physical or social, which can prove correct or incorrect. Such action is based upon empirical knowledge and is governed by technical rules.
  • Choices in the process of instrumental action involve strategies based upon this knowledge and deduced from rules of a value system or from rules of investigation. These strategies may be correctly or incorrectly deduced. Choosing the best strategy depends upon correctly assessing alternatives. The criteria of effective control of reality determine which choice is appropriate or inappropriate.
  • The domain of instrumental learning centrally involves determining cause-effect relationships and learning through task oriented problem solving.
    • Dewey's (1933) concept of reflection in the context of problem solving has particular relevance here. Dewey explains that we respond to an indeterminate situation by formulating hypothetical courses of action, anticipating the consequences of each, acting upon the most plausible hypothesis, and testing its validity by the results of the action. We deduce generalizations from hypotheses.
    • Piaget described this hypothetical-deductive form of reasoning in terms of "formal operations" and saw it as a final developmental stage of human beings, emerging in adolescence.
  • Put in terms of transformation theory, meaning is acquired deductively in task-oriented problem solving by testing a hypothetical meaning scheme that we believe will more effectively influence a cause-effect relationship so as to permit greater control over a problem situation (golf example for this on page 74).
  • It should be noted parenthetically that behind this learning scenario is a set of consensually, rather than empirically, established meanings; the meaning of cause and effect, of a game, of the game of golf and the function of a golf ball and golf clubs, of the meaning of successful performance in golf and in general, and of the meaning of the very words and sentences with which we conceptualize this reality. Instrumental learning and empirical verification are based on and dependent upon a foundation of communicative learning.

II. Communicative Learning (p. 75)

  • Communicative knowledge of ourselves, each other, and social norms. Interpretive in nature. Varies from one community or culture to another. Consists of values and beliefs. Socially constructed.
  • Most significant learning in adulthood falls into this category because it involves understanding, describing, and explaining intentions; values; ideals; moral issues; social, political, philosophical, psychological, or educational concepts; feelings and reasons. All of these things are shaped decisively by cultural and linguistic codes and social norms and expectations.
  • governed by binding consensual norms, which define reciprocal expectations about behavior and which must be understood and recognized by at least two acting subjects. Social norms are enforced through sanctions. Their meaning is objectified in ordinary language communication. While the validity of technical rules and strategies [pertaining to instrumental learning] depend on that of empirically true or analytically correct propositions, the validity of social norms is grounded only in the intersubjectivity of the mutual understanding of intentions and secured by the general recognition of obligations

Consensual Validation

  • In the absence of empirical tests (b/c in Communicative Learning validity testing takes the form of consensus reached through rational discourse), we learn what is valid in the assertions of others and gain credence for the validity of our own ideas by either relying on tradition, authority, or force or relying on as broad a consensus possible of those who are most informed, rational, and objective. [ahem... the world is flat.]
  • In fact, however, universal agreement is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the validity of consensual judgments arrived at through rational discourse must be provisional because new information and new paradigms may always emerge. [stay openminded.]
  • Because a consensus may be reached through coercion, it becomes essential that the standards pertaining to arriving at a consensus be examined before a specific consensus can be accepted as reasonable
  • validity as truth-claims possess, then, are to be understood as proposals and counterproposals in a dialogue in a community of the interested who share a culture of critical discourse
  • In rational discourse, in contrast to everyday dialogue, principles and operations are made linguistically explicit. Thus, Gouldner says, such discourse is likely to be more independent of context and less closely linked to local social structures, relationships, or situations than ordinary dialogue. Rational discourse has been institutionalized in, for example, courtroom proceedings, university seminars, scientific inquiry, psychotherapy, and responsible journalism (at least in their ideal forms). We resort to discourse when we have reason to question the comprehensibility, truth, appropriateness (in relation to norms), or authenticity (in relation to feelings) of what is being asserted or to question the credibility of the person making the statement. When this happens, further dialogue becomes impossible until these questions can be resolved.

The Conditions of Rational Discourse

  • A set of optimal conditions for participation in rational discourse. Under these optimal conditions, participants will:
    • have accurate and complete information
    • be free from coercion and distorting self-deception
    • be able to weigh evidence and assess arguments objectively
    • be open to alternative perspectives
    • be able to become critically reflective upon presuppositions and their consequences
    • have equal opportunity to participate (including the chance to challenge, question, refute, and reflect and to hear othersdo the same), and
    • be able to accept an informed, objective, and rational consensus as a legitimate test of validity.[ hmm.... ]
  • Participation in rational discourse under these ideal conditions will help adults become critically reflective of the meaning perspectives and arrive at more developmentally advanced meaning perspectives. A developmentally advanced meaning perspective is one that is:
    • more inclusive, discriminating, and integrative of experience
    • based upon full information
    • free from both internal and external coercion
    • open to other perspectives and points of view
    • accepting of others as equal participants in discourse
    • objective and rational in assessing contending arguments and evidence
    • critically reflective of presuppositions and their source and consequences, and
    • able to accept an informed and rational consensus as the authority for judging conflicting validity claims

The Limits of Rationality

  • When the presuppositions of the opposing sides are irreconcilable, i.e. abortion
  • When rational discourse fails, we turn to other forms of authority to resolve our differences (political solution or one imposed through the courts, or we turn to religious dogma)
  • It is in all of our interests to minimize the number of these imposed solutions and not to allow the dictates of political, legal, or religious systems to become substitutes for rational discourse. In a sense, politicians, lawyers, and dogmatic religious leaders represent an entrenched establishment who have acquired a hegemony over problem solving that encroaches upon the lifeworld of both adult learners and adult educators. When the educators fail, the politicians, lawyers, and religious leaders move in and impose solutions. Of course, any of these professions may — and sometimes do — play the role of adult educator and foster rather than usurp the role of critical discourse and consensus

Differences from Instrumental Learning

Communicative Learning
Instrumental Learning
  • Aim: clarification of conditions for communication and "intersubjectivity," the process of relating to another as a psychological subject (an agent like oneself)
  • the learner actively and purposefully negotiates his or her way through a series of specific encounters by using language and gesture and by anticipating the actions of others.
  • This process is governed by social norms, which provide the frame of reference and the preconditions for understanding in the form of a set of reciprocal expectations
  • Aim: technical control and manipulation
  • an object to be controlled and manipulated
  • Form of inquiry: designative
  • We learn to understand what is designated
  • We have all read a poem or viewed a painting without fully comprehending it or have left the theater unclear about the meaning of a play or film. Only later something we read or the insightful remark of a friend or critic suggests a meaning scheme that makes our experience click into focus and provides understanding.
  • form of inquiry: prescriptive, dictate what we should do
  • consensual judgments can be reached through reasoning and argumentation
  • The focus: increasing insight and attaining common ground through symbolic interaction.
  • Action: communicative
  • the problem-solving process involves the identification and validation of explanatory constructs.
  • The focus: establishing cause-effect relationship
  • Action: instrumental
  • the problem-solving process involves testing the truth of a hypothesis

This differentiation should not be understood as an attempt to establish a dichotomy, as most learning involves both instrumental and communicative aspects.

Learning Through Metaphors
  • Just as hypotheses are the reasoning tools of instrumental learning, metaphors are the tools of communicative learning. We confront the unknown by making associations with what we know. We begin with partial insights to direct the way we collect additional data. We compare incidents, key concepts, or words and relate them to our meaning schemes. Often understanding comes from finding the right metaphor to fit the experience analogically into our meaning schemes, theories, belief systems, or self-concept.
  • Meaning schemes and perspectives dictate both the selection and the composition of metaphors. Lakoff and Johnson note, "A sentence is virtually never understood on its own
    terms without the evocation of some larger gestalt that specifies the normal range of natural dimension (e.g., purposes, stages, etc.). Whichever gestalt is evoked, we understand much more than is given directly in the sentence. Each such gestalt provides a background for understanding the sentence in terms of an experiential category of our culture" (p. 168). Many concepts, such as understanding, argument, idea, love, happiness, health, and morality, can be described only in terms of metaphors.
  • Because so much of what we communicate and of what we understand in what others communicate is construed metaphorically, it is essential that we become aware of and able to criticize tacit generative metaphors. Such critical awareness will increase our effectiveness in analyzing problems by allowing us to examine the analogies, including possibly false or limited analogies, that are being used to attribute meaning to an experience.

Confronting the Unknown (page 82)

Hermeneutic Circle
Hermeneutic Circle

  • Because communicative learning involves dealing with the ideas of others, it frequently requires us to confront the unknown. When we confront the unknown — that is, when the properties of an experience do not fit our expectations or further differentiation is called for—our reflection may result in the creation of new meaning schemes or habits of expectation to integrate these properties. Over time, a limited initial understanding may become transformed through metaphorical thought as we come to discover the significance of this understanding in other experiential, theoretical, literary, or aesthetic contexts. We continually move back and forth between the parts and the whole of what we seek to understand. Initial expectation and its revision, the dialectical movement between preconception and confirmation and between meaning scheme and experience, is captured in Hans-Georg Gadamer's concept of the "hermeneutic circle," which also can refer to mediation between whole and parts and between past and present.
  • Imagination is indispensable to understanding the unknown. We imagine alternative ways of seeing and interpreting. The more reflective and open to the perspectives of others
    we are, the richer our imagination of alternative contexts for understanding will be.
  • Intuition also can play a central role in identifying a strange experience. Intuition refers to immediate recognition of the experience's meaning or significance without going through the process of intentional analysis. Intuition is identified as the major link between presentational and propositional construal. Intuition can guide us when we encounter the unknown, suggesting metaphoric analogies and directions for abductive thought. It is also a resource that can provide insight during the process of problem solving or reflection.
  • Barer-Stein (1987) provides us with a phenomenological analysis of learning as a process of experiencing the unfamiliar. She delineates a five-phase model for this process.
Phase 1
being aware
"What is this?"
a reflective pause during which a decision is made to proceed toward understanding an object or event. This phase involves an awareness of current or retrospective interest but does not involve explanations. It involves the desire to know more and the motivating belief that we can achieve understanding.
Phase 2
"How does this compare what what I know?"
involves taking a closer look at the phenomenon and becoming aware of our own interest.
Phase 3
"Shall I try it?"
looking at alternative meaning perspectives and judging them
Phase 4
"Do I know this? Do I want to?"
coming face-to-face with the unfamiliar and recognizing that it is unknown and will not yield meaning. Faced with this developmental dilemma, we can ignore the confrontation, do battle with it, withdraw by retreat into ourselves or into the comfortable and familiar, or go on to the final phase of involving.
Phase 5
"How did this come to be?"
"What are the possibilities?"
"Which makes sense?"
"What is the relevant meaning for me?"
The unknown is appropriated into our meaning framework
It involves a fourfold theme of hearing/listening and reflection/heeding (appropriation)

external image 6a00d8341d9f5853ef012875aa725d970c-pi

Problem Solving by Metaphorical-Abductive Logic (page 85)

  • Abductive Logic: Thus, to abduce a from b involves determining that a is sufficient (or nearly sufficient), but not necessary, for b. For example, the lawn is wet. But if it rained last night, then it would be unsurprising that the lawn is wet. Therefore, by abductive reasoning, it rained last night. (link)
  • Metaphorical-Abductive Logic moves from the concrete to the abstract rather than from the abstract to the concrete. In communication, we try to understand what someone else means "abductively," that is, by drawing upon our experience to explain theirs.
    • Abduction explains what may be
    • deduction what must be
    • induction what actually is operative
  • In solving a problem in the communicative domain, we start by making a metaphoric association between what is known, that is, what has been interpreted within a current meaning scheme, and a new experience. What we know then suggests the next step in problem solving; in abduction, each step suggests the next one. We understand parts in terms of an initial impression of the whole, shaped by habits of expectation (meaning schemes); this interpretation of the whole becomes modified or revised in light of closer analysis of the parts. Movement is toward an interpretation of the whole in which our detailed knowledge of the parts can be integrated without conflict (the hermeneutic circle). We test perceptions against this process of data development; the more we know, the less feasible it is to apply arbitrary preconceptions in very different contexts.
  • This "problem-solving" process of attempting to understand requires an openness to different perspectives so that a learner becomes reflective or critically reflective in the course
    of interpretive activity. The learner must view an experience in terms of a conceptual framework or meaning scheme different from that in which it was originally understood as meaningful. Making meaning in this situation occurs through the creation of new meaning schemes or the modification of old ones.

Research in the Communicative Domain (page 85/86)

  • The methods of the empirical-analytic sciences are not appropriate for studying learning in the communicative domain. Such study requires systematic inquiry that seeks the understanding of meaning rather than the delineation of causality.
  • Habermas says that the "historical- hermeneutic" sciences are most relevant to this task of understanding communication. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation and explanation. It is derived from the branch of theology that, through textual analysis, defines the laws by which the meaning of the Scriptures must be ascertained. The historical-hermeneutic disciplines include descriptive social science, history, aesthetics, legal, ethnographic, literary, and other studies that interpret the meaning of communicative experience.
  • Hermeneutic: is the study of interpretation theory, and can be either the art of interpretation, or the theory and practice of interpretation. Traditional hermeneutics — which includes Biblical hermeneutics — refers to the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially texts in the areas of literature, religion and law. Contemporary, or modern, hermeneutics encompasses not only issues involving the written text, but everything in the interpretative process. This includes verbal and nonverbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that affect communication, such as presuppositions, preunderstandings, the meaning and philosophy of language, and semiotics (link)
  • An example of a study in such a discipline is the writer's grounded theory study of perspective transformation of women in college reentry programs (Mezirow, 1975), in which we used a hermeneutic approach to attempt to understand common patterns in the process of perspective change, which we identified as a prevailing learning process from transcripts of our interviews.

III. Emancipatory Learning: The Reflective Dimension

  • (emancipatory: To free from bondage, oppression, or restraint; liberate.)
  • Emancipatory knowledge leads to freedom from constraints and oppression (either personal or social). Subjective in nature. A product of critical reflection and critical self-reflection. Transformative learning leads to emancipatory knowledge. (from Basic Theoretical Terms and Concepts: Overview By Dr. Patricia Cranton)
  • The emancipatory interest is what impels us, through reflection, to identify and challenge distorted meaning perspectives. It is interest in the knowledge resulting from self-reflection, including interest in the way our history and biography have expressed themselves in the way we see ourselves, our assumptions about learning and the nature and use of knowledge, and our roles and social expectations and the repressed feelings that influence them.
  • The form of inquiry in critical self-reflection is appraisive rather than prescriptive or designative.
  • Emancipatory knowledge is knowledge gained through critical self-reflection
  • The emancipation in emancipatory learning is emancipation from libidinal, linguistic, epistemic, institutional, or environmental forces that limit our options and our rational control
    over our lives but have been taken for granted or seen as beyond human control. These forces include the misconceptions, ideologies, and psychological distortions in prior learning that produce or perpetuate unexamined relations of dependence.
  • When self-reflection is critical, it involves a searching view of the unquestioningly accepted presuppositions that sustain our fears, inhibitions, and patterns of interaction, such as our reaction to rejection, and their consequences in our relationships. Knowledge gained through self-reflective learning may be distorted, and all learning about oneself is not necessarily reflective (see Chapter Four). Most of what we have learned about ourselves has not been examined for unconsciously incorporated assumptions about the stability of our roles, internal prohibitions, or patterns of thought, perception, and response.
  • Empirical tests cannot be used to validate the authenticity of our assertions regarding how we feel, but such assertions are consensually validated (or not) through dialogue among those who know us best. Thus, self-knowledge is clearly a function of communicative learning— of how others interpret us — but it is also gained in important ways through instrumental learning by getting feedback on our competence to perform.
  • All critical reflection is appraisive rather than prescriptive or designative. Emancipatory learning often is transformative. In emancipatory learning, the learner is presented with
    an alternative way of interpreting feelings and patterns of action; the old meaning scheme or perspective is negated and is either replaced or reorganized to incorporate new insights. In emancipatory learning we come to see our reality more inclusively, to understand it more clearly, and to integrate our experience better. Dramatic personal and social changes become possible when we become aware of the way that both our psychological and our cultural assumptions have created or contributed to our dependence on outside forces that we have regarded as unchangeable.
  • However, learning to understand our individual historical and biographical situation more fully contributes to the development of autonomy and responsibility in deciding how to define our problems and the course of action that is most appropriate under particular circumstances.

The Nature of Adult Learning
Gregory Bateson's Learning Theory.

  • Seems to form the basis for TL's four different types of learning.
    • Zero Learning
    • Learning I: learning within established meaning schemes, our meaning schemes or perspectives do not change;
    • Learning II: learning about contexts (meaning schemes) involving content and process reflection. The premises based upon which we learn may become changed during this stage, although we are unaware of such changes.
    • Learning III: perspective transformations, through which we can become aware that our whole way of perceiving the world has been based on questionable premises. "Learning III is a change in the process of Learning II.

Edward Cell's Learning Theory.

  • Cell's differentiation of reflective learning into transsituational and transcendent categories are valuable contributions to the development of a transformation theory of adult learning.

  • interprets learning as involving four different levels of change that may take place either separately or in combination. He calls these levels
    • response learning
      • we change the way we are prepared to respond, either by adding a new response to our repertoire or by substituting a new response for an old one.
      • Much of this kind of learning proceeds by trial and error. It includes conditioned responses and rote learning.
    • situation learning
      • Situation learning involves a change in the way we interpret a situation.
      • Interpretations involve placing a value on something in the situation and judging how things work in the situation.
      • It is through situation learning that we create alternatives from which to make choices. Situation learning may involve either an active reinterpretation of the situation or a reflective reinterpretation by which we remove ourselves from the action to examine the situation critically. Cell maintains that we adopt an interpretation only when we embody it in our behavior. We interpret a situation by dividing it into a sequence of events or subsituations and learn responses to each subsituation that is rewarding or leads to consequences we desire. By doing this, we organize experience in ways that have meaning for us. We can learn by operant conditioning within this context of interpretation.
    • transsituation learning:
      • learning how to change our interpretations of a situation. This involves interpreting our acts of interpretation and reflecting on our powers of reflection.
    • transcendent learning
      • The development of the ability to modify concepts or to create new ones for interpreting individual situations
      • Examples of the results of transcendent learning include the theories of Newton, Freud, Marx,Skinner, and Maslow, creative contributions that provide newtools for interpretation of specific situations.

Meziro's four types of learning (as of 2000), (Kitchenham, The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, 2008)

Transformation Theory (as of 1991, the graphic above is a newer version)

  • Adult learning may assume any of the following four forms:
    • learning through existing meaning schemes
      • learning to further differentiate and elaborate the previously acquired meaning schemes that we take for granted, or learning within the structure of our acquired frames of reference.
      • For example,
        • In the instrumental domain, we learn that we must keep our head down as we swing a golf club if we want to improve our drive.
        • In the communicative domain, we learn that honesty can refer to self-disclosure as well as to abiding by the law.
        • In the case of self-reflection, we learn the limits of our tolerance for ambiguity.
      • This form of learning includes habitual and stereotypic responses to information received through preexisting, known categories of meaning — what has been aptly described as "recipe learning"— as well as rote learning, in which one behavior becomes the stimulus for another behavior. The only thing that changes within a meaning scheme is a specific response.
    • learning new meaning schemes,
      • creating new meanings that are sufficiently consistent and compatible with existing meaning perspectives to complement them by extending their scope.
      • Instrumentally, we learn how to take tests, for example;
      • communicatively, we learn how to play a new role;
      • self-reflection, we learn to think of ourselves in terms of a new category of description, such as introverted/extroverted.
      • In this form of learning, our meaning perspective does not change fundamentally, even though it is extended. The prevailing perspective is strengthened rather than negated because the understanding of new areas of experience that the new meaning scheme makes possible resolves inconsistencies or anomalies within the older belief system. New meaning schemes may be assimilated consciously or unconsciously in the course of socialization. Identification with others often plays a large role in this form of learning.
    • learning through the transformation of meaning schemes,
      • This is learning that involves reflection on assumptions. We find that our specific points of view or beliefs have become dysfunctional, and we experience a growing sense of the inadequacy of our old ways of seeing and understanding meaning. For instance, a woman attending an early evening class at a local college who feels obligated to rush home to prepare dinner for her husband may come to question the meaning scheme that produces that compulsion as she encounters other women who do not feel a need to fulfill this stereotypical sex role. Often other meaning schemes derived from the same stereotypical role become similarly transformed at about the same time. This accretion of transformed meaning schemes can lead to a transformation in meaning perspective.
    • learning through the transformation of meaning perspectives.
      • Becoming aware, through reflection and critique, of specific presuppositions upon which a distorted or incomplete meaning perspective is based and then transforming that perspective through a reorganization of meaning.
      • This is the most significant kind of emancipatory learning. It begins when we encounter experiences, often in an emotionally charged situation, that fail to fit our expectations and consequently lack meaning for us, or we encounter an anomaly that cannot be given coherence either by learning within existing schemes or by learning new schemes. Illumination comes only through a redefinition of the problem. Redefinition in turn is achieved by critically reassessing the assumptions that support the current meaning scheme(s) in question. Such epochal transformations often are associated with a life crisis that impels us to redefine old ways of understanding. Chapter Four deals with the way premises and other assumptions undergirding prior learning are assessed.

Problem Solving for Trasformative Learning, (Mezirow, 1991, page 95)

Learning as Problem Solving.

  • The problem solving process follows the sequence of the learner's line of action.
    • The process begins with a doubtful or problematic meaning scheme (outer area) and moves to scanning—exploring, analyzing, remembering, intuiting, imaging.
    • Scanning in turn leads to propositional construal, imaginative insight, and making a new interpretation.
    • As we remember this interpretation and use it as a guide to subsequent decisions or action, we learn.
    • The interpretation may lead to a reflective change in our original meaning scheme, elaborating, supplementing, or transforming it.
    • When the new interpretation successfully challenges an entire meaning perspective, it can result in a perspective transformation.
    • Every phase of problem solving is influenced by our meaning perspectives.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. CA

Chapter 4, Making Meaning Through Reflection, p. 99-117.

Transformative Learning, three types of Reflection (1995 version) (Kitchenham, 2008)
Transformative Learning, three types of Reflection (1995 version) (Kitchenham, 2008)

Transformative Learning, Critical Reflection (1998 version), (Kitchenham, 2008)
Transformative Learning, Critical Reflection (1998 version), (Kitchenham, 2008)

Kitchenham, A. (2008). The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory. Journal of Transformative Education 2008 6: 104

  • Learners can transform an individual meaning scheme by
    • examining previous actions (content reflection or learning within meaning schemes) or
    • examining where the actions and their related factors originated (process reflection or learning new meaning schemes),
    • when they consider a more global view, the reflection is much deeper, more complex, and involves transforming a series of meaning schemes (premise reflection or learning through meaning transformation; see the first Figure).
  • There are two types of transformation:
    • straightforward transformation of a meaning scheme, which occurs through content and process reflection, and
    • much more profound transformation of a set of meaning schemes (i.e., meaning perspective) by critically reflecting on premises.
  • Based on further research, Mezirow (1998a) refined his earlier work on critical reflection (Mezirow, 1995). He presented two new aspects of critical reflection.
    • critical reflection of assumptions, whereby the learner not only looks back on something that occurred but also examines the assumptions or presuppositions that were involved in the reflection process (i.e., content and process reflection) see the second Figure).
    • Involves “a critique of a premise upon which the learner has defined a problem” (Mezirow, 1998b, p. 186). Therefore, critical self-reflection of an assumption is akin to premise reflection (Mezirow, 1995). Learners examine their worldview in light of their own particular belief or value system.

In instrumental learning we can transform our points of view by becoming critically reflective of assumptions supporting the content and/or process of problem solving. (Mezirow, 2000, page 20, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)

  • Critical analysis of content or process in instrumental learning can lead to significantly improved performance by the educator.
  • For example, in deciding how to assign grades to learners in a class we may become critically reflective of the content of the problem:
    • How might one select and assign value to different indicators—standardized tests, written work, teacher-made tests, participation, group work, and others?
  • We may also become critically reflective of the process of solving the problem: \
    • Do we have a sufficiently representative sample of student performance in the selected indicators to make a fair judgment?
  • We may transform our habit of mind by becoming critically reflective of our premises in defining the problem,
    • such as by questioning the validity of our assumptions supporting the concept of competitive grading in the first place rather than focusing assessment on individual learner gains, and perhaps we take action on our reflective insight by turning to another form of evaluation, such as portfolio assessment.

Back to chapter 4 in Mezirow's book,

Reflection is the central dynamic in

  • intentional learning,
  • problem solving,
  • validity testing through rational discourse.


  • is not a synonym for thoughtful action, as thoughtful action does not necessarily imply reflection (p. 100)
  • Locke: reflection was simple awareness of our own process of thinking and writing. A man was reflective when he was "conscious to himself that he thinks." Locke described reflection as having both cognitive and conative dimensions: "[It] is the perception of the operation of our own mind within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got; which operations . . . are perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, willing, and all the different actings of our own minds; which we being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, do from these receive into our understandings as distinct ideas, as we do from our bodies affecting our senses"
  • John Dewey: reflective thought is active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends. ("Grounds" refer to evidence by which the reliability and worth of a belief can be established so as to justify its acceptance.) Dewey's "reflection" is what transformation theory calls validity testing.
  • Through reflection we see through the habitual way that we have interpreted the experience of everyday life in order to reassess rationally the implicit claim of validity made by a previously unquestioned meaning scheme or perspective. This dimension of reflection is missing in other contemporary learning theories.

Reflection is the process of critically assessing the

  • content, --
  • process, --
  • premise(s)
of our efforts to interpret and give meaning to an experience.

If the problem is to determine whether Joe is telling the truth about his age.

  • content, -- reflection on content might focus our attention on physical clues, such as the color of Joe's hair, the lines in his face, or the year he completed school.
  • process, -- Reflection on process might lead us to assess the adequacy of our efforts to find relevant and dependable clues in order to improve our performance in solving similar problems in the future.
  • premise(s) -- Reflection on the premise of the problem might lead us to question the merit and functional relevance of the question: Why do, or should, we care how old Joe is? We might conclude that if Joe is physically healthy, active, and productive, his age does not really matter to us.

Premise Reflection

  • Reflection involves the critique of assumptions about the content or process of problem solving. Premises are special cases of assumptions.
  • The critique of premises or presuppositions pertains to problem posing as distinct from problem solving. Problem posing involves making a taken-for-granted situation problematic, raising questions regarding its validity.
  • Abduction explains what may be and deduction what must be
  • reflection on premise, in the communicative learning domain, might involve an assessment of the validity of norms, roles, codes, "common sense," ideologies, language games, paradigms, philosophies, or theories that we have taken for granted. Depending on the nature of the problem, we might also reflect on epistemic or psychological presuppositions.
Nonreflective Action and Reflective Action (p. 106)

  • Habitual Action
    • freeing us to act while focusing our attention elsewhere.
    • takes place outside of focal awareness in what Polanyi (1967) refers to as tacit awareness.
    • Much prior learning that originally involved deliberate effort, practice, and concern for the validity of our insights, such as learning to type, ride a bicycle,or drive a car.
  • Introspection
    • thinking about ourselves, our thoughts or feelings. We feel good about ourselves or are aware of how much we are enjoying an experience, for example.
    • Introspection does not involve validity testing of prior learning and hence is also nonreflective.
    • Becoming aware of, say, negative feelings toward an acquaintance named John is introspection, simply being aware of ourselves feeling, perceiving, thinking, or acting.
  • Thoughtful Action
    • While the action is currently happening.
    • Can be with or without reflection
    • falls within focal awareness.
    • which involves higher-order cognitive processes to guide us as we analyze,perform, discuss, and judge.
    • we direct our attention to ongoing action but draw upon our prior learning to remember and make inferences, generalizations, analogies, and discriminations, judgments, analysis, and evaluations.
    • Although we make tacit judgments regarding what knowledge is relevant, thoughtful action involves a selective review of prior learning rather than a deliberate appraisal or reappraisal of it; we are not attending to the grounds or justification for our beliefs but are simply using our beliefs to make an interpretation, like deciding on the next action move when involved in an intensive physical sport.
    • Learning under these circumstances remains within preexisting meaning schemes and perspectives and focuses on planning the next moves in a sequence
      of action
    • Deciding that "John is bad" is a thoughtful action, making a judgment based upon evidence or prior learning.
      • Content reflection — reflection on what we perceive, think, feel, or act upon.
      • Process reflection is an examination of how we perform these functions of perceiving, thinking, feeling, or acting and an assessment of our efficacy in performing them. We might, for example, ask ourselves whether we could have misinterpreted some incident that we used as evidence in concluding that "John is bad." The
        act of premise reflection leads us to question whether good or bad is an adequate concept for understanding or judging John.
  • We resort to reflection only when we require guidance in negotiating a step in a series of actions or run into difficulty in understanding a new experience.
  • Reflection can be integrated into the active process of instrumental problem solving and can become an integral part of the process of thoughtful action — we assess what we have defined as our options in order to make the most appropriate next move (reflection on the content of the problem) —
  • Or reflection can occur only when the action stops because of a block, in which case it becomes part of a retrospective assessment of process or premise. Sometimes only then do we check prior learning to determine w hy our strategies or procedures of problem solving have not worked as they should to solve the problem.
  • Retroactive reflection
    • Reflection on action, retrospectively , where action and reflection are clearly separated, practitioners reflect on action after the experience (link to a doc)
    • Transformative learning involving retroactive reflection may refer to (4 types of transformative learning: confirmation, elaboration, creation, or transformations in meaning perspective)
      • content and process reflection, which can lead to transformation in meaning schemes (but does not always do so; it may result in an confirmation, or elaboration, creation of a scheme), and to
      • premise reflection, which can lead directly to transformations in meaning perspective (follow the dotted line above in the diagram).
    • Premise reflection involves our becoming aware of why we perceive, think, feel, or act as we do and of the reasons for and consequences of our possible habits of hasty judgment, conceptual inadequacy, or error in the process of judging John. Premise reflection involves the process of "theoretical reflectivity" (Broughton, 1977). Theoretical reflectivity may cause us to become critical of epistemic, social, or psychological presuppositions.
The Process of Reflective Action, Transformative Learning, (Mezirow, 1991, page 109) modified by me
The Process of Reflective Action, Transformative Learning, (Mezirow, 1991, page 109) modified by me
Reflective Action (p. 108)

  • Reflective action is making decisions or taking other action predicated (based or established) upon the insights resulting from reflection.
  • Anticipatory reflection to describe reflection which takes place before a developmental experience (link to same doc as above)
  • Only through premise reflection can one experience a transformation of a meaning perspective.
  • Our perceiving, thinking, feeling, and acting may be carried out either habitually or thoughtfully, but in either case these modes of action can be influenced significantly by
    • errors in content or process as well as
    • distorted by unwarranted epistemic, social, or psychological presuppositions resulting from prior learning.
  • Thus our continued learning becomes dependent upon a reflective review of what we have learned, how we have learned it, and whether our presuppositions are warranted.

The Importance of Premise Reflection (p. 110)

  • It becomes necessary for us to reexamine and challenge our presuppositions and premises less frequently than to critique content or our process strategies and tactics. But it is this premise reflection that opens the possibility for perspective transformation.
  • Critique and reassessment of the adequacy of prior learning, leading potentially to its negation, are the hallmarks of reflection. This is why Popper was correct in believing that negation is the critical dynamic for learning. Although content or process reflection may become an integral part of thoughtful action, premise reflection cannot. It must involve a hiatus in which a problem becomes redefined so that action may be redirected.
  • The significance of differentiating content, process, and premise reflection becomes clear when we realize that content and process reflection are the dynamics by which our beliefs—meaning schemes—are changed, that is, become reinforced, elaborated, created, negated, confirmed, or identified as problems (problematized) and transformed.
  • Premise reflection is the dynamic by which our belief systems—meaning perspectives—become transformed. Premise reflection leads to more fully developed meaning perspectives, that is, meaning perspectives that are more inclusive, discriminating, permeable (open), and integrative of experience. + affective insight was added later, noted in -->(Wiessner & Mezirow, 2000, Theory building and the search for common ground, page 346, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)
  • Reflective learning can be either confirmative or transformative.
    • It becomes transformative when assumptions are found to be distorting, inauthentic, or otherwise unjustified. Transformative learning results in new or transformed meaning schemes or, when reflection focuses on premises, new or transformed meaning perspectives—that is, in perspective transformation.

Other Interpretations of Reflection
reflection = metacognition = reflection-in-action = mindfulness (not really equal, but I couldn't find the similar sign.)

Reflection as Mindfulness (p. 114, I want this for later)

  • Habitual action is called "mindlessness" by psychologist Ellen Langer (Yussen, 1985, p. 267- 285), who defines this term as a routine reliance on categories and distinctions already formed. She contrasts this approach with "mindfulness," or being fully engaged in making distinctions and creating categories. Mindfulness is described as being aware of content and multiple perspectives. It is what transformation theory calls reflective action. Behavior based on mindlessness is rigid and rule governed, while that based on mindfulness is rule guided. Mindfulness is not effortful or difficult, although there is much psychological research to support the contention that people frequently try to reduce their cognitive activity and to use minimal cues to guide their action.
  • Langer has marshalled extensive empirical research evidence to support and elaborate her concepts of mindlessness and mindfulness (Langer, 1989). Mindfulness may come into play either after many repetitions of a particular experience or after only a single exposure as when the situation triggers an overlearned sequence of behavior (like copying familiar text on a typewriter we have used for years). People are more likely to be mindful and to have accurate perceptions when they are attending to the unfamiliar and the deviant than when they are dealing with the familiar. Mindfulness is described as welcoming new information, involving more than one view, and focusing on process before outcome, control over context (meaning perspective), and creation of new categories.
  • An individual's lack of awareness of the difference between mindlessness and mindfulness can result in difficulties and inaccuracies in reading, writing, and speaking because it can cause mindlessness and mindfulness to be used inappropriately. Mindfulness is sometimes maladaptive; when riding a bicycle in heavy traffic, for example, it is better not to have to pay attention to the mechanics of riding the bike. We also tend not to be mindful of information that appears irrelevant, is given by a nonthreatening authority figure, or concerns a subject about which we have no prior knowledge.
  • In learning and education, mindlessness is associated with a goal rather than a process orientation, what Langer calls "education for outcomes"— instrumental learning — rather than a learning orientation that focuses on the processes of creative problem solving. Mindlessness often involves "premature cognitive commitments," clinging to a previously formed mind-set when we encounter a similar but new situation. Mindlessness leads to the uncritical acceptance of labels, self-induced dependence on external authority, simplistic attributions, diminished self-image, and reduced growth potential.
  • Langer differentiates mindfulness and mindlessness from Piaget's concepts of assimilation, the process of cognitive growth by which the external world is fitted to our cognitive representations of it, and accommodation, the process by which we adjust our representations to fit the external world. She interprets mindlessness and mindfulness (or nonreflective and reflective action) as states of passive or active involvement with experience. They are the ways in which the individual carries out the processes of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation may be either mindless or mindful. Accommodation is usually mindful because when we have no established way of dealing with an object or event, we must create new distinctions and categories.
  • For the typical individual, mindfulness occurs only when significantly more effort is demanded by the situation than was originally demanded by similar situations; when external factors prevent the completion of a behavior; or when there are negative or positive consequences of prior enactments of the same behavior (Yussen, 1985). Such consequences either pose a problem or a tentative hypothesis or interpretive metaphor to try out in making our next interpretations. Langer has found that mindfulness on the job can increase
    productivity, satisfaction, flexibility, innovation, and leadership ability (1989, p. 133). Among the aged, it is significantly related to greater activity, independence, confidence, alertness, vigor, sociability, and length of life (p. 86).

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. CA

Chapter 5, Distorted Assumptions: Uncovering Errors in Learning p. 117-144.

Was in the hospital reading this.

Chapter Summary
In this chapter we reviewed the ways in which we can become misled by errors in the process of reasoning or problem solving and by distorted and underdeveloped epistemic, sociolinguistic, or psychological meaning perspectives. We have detailed how these distortions in the premises underlying our belief systems can block adult development toward more inclusive, discriminating, permeable, and integrative meaning perspectives. Major points in the chapter include the following:

  1. Meaning perspectives may be more or less fully developed; they are subject to epistemic, sociolinguistic, and psychological distortions. Each meaning perspective involves a set of assumptions that may be dysfunctional in adult life.
  2. In instrumental learning, distortions are likely to be logical or methodological; errors are made in applying rules of inference or reasoning.
  3. Reflective judgment — acceptance of consensual validation through rational discourse — involves a developmental sequence that becomes complete only in adulthood. Development of reflective judgment also appears to be correlated with formal schooling in which abstract thought is emphasized.
  4. Epistemic distortions are derived from perspectives held over from earlier developmental stages; cognitive, learning, and intelligence styles; narrow scope of awareness; inappropriate use of global/detail focus or concrete/abstract thinking; emphasis on entropy and linear time; and others.
  5. Dysfunctional meaning schemes may arise from distorted sociolinguistic premises involving specific ideologies, prescribed norms and roles, cultural and language codes, language games, role expectations derived from secondary socialization, prototypes, anticipated scenarios of interaction, and philosophies and theories that serve to frame experience selectively.
  6. Psychological distortions arise from anxiety generated by parental prohibitions learned under traumatic circumstances in childhood. These distortions take the form of "lost" adult functions (mature ways of feeling and acting) blocked by inhibitions, psychological defense mechanisms, and neurotic needs. The distorted assumptions suggest that to feel or act in ways forbidden by the prohibition will result in disaster, even though such an expectation usually is unrealistic in adulthood.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. CA

Chapter 6, Perspective Transformation: How Learning Leads to Change, p. 145-195.

Precritical, Critical, and Postcritical Learning Postures (Within the context of a religion class, p. 165)
Precritical Learning Posture

  • are apprehensive that seemingly settled issues may be found to be unsettled after all and thus see new ideas as potential threats rather than opportunities.
  • view traditions other than their own as exotic and misguided and find foreign belief systems titillating or shocking but are really part of the "human" world.
  • think about religious phenomena only from an intensely personal perspective.
  • Such learners tend to think concretely rather than abstractly, to read books without thinking of the books' particular social, political, historical, or technological contexts, and to have difficulty understanding theoretical notions such as comparison of different points of view or religions.

Critical Learning Posture

  • have internalized the basic assumptions and thought patterns associated with literate cultures
  • Their commitment to write and read nurtures the development of qualities of abstraction, inferiority, and individuality.
  • They no longer take words for granted as spoken events in which meaning arises spontaneously in discourse, but instead see them as visual signs to be carefully interpreted.
  • They come to see questioning and doubt as indispensable to finding truth.
  • These learners think of religion as a social phenomenon that may be studied with a detached eye.
  • They read texts critically by relating them to the social world, and they see meaning as a particular function of history.

Postcritical Learning Posture

  • the learner "recovers the personal sensibility that dominates precritical thinking."
  • Learners in this stage accept belief as the ground of common life. To them, "belief is both an individual and communal fact which is an inevitable and an acceptable life foundation for creatures like the human being with sophisticated symbolic powers.
  • recognize this philosophical insight but recognize also that the insight reflexively includes within it applicability to their own quest for self-understanding. That is, their own activities are recognized as belief-guided endeavors seeking further understanding"

ego archetypes shadow anima animus persona
ego archetypes shadow anima animus persona

ego archetypes shadow anima animus persona
ego archetypes shadow anima animus persona

The Self

  • The self is an archetype that represents the unification of the unconsciousness and consciousness of an individual. The creation of the self occurs through a process known as individuation, in which the various aspects of personality are integrated. Jung often represented the self as a circle, square or mandala. (link)
The Anima or Animus

  • the feminine component in men and the masculine component in women, important in many personal transformations that involve a recognition of the part they play in one's life
  • The anima is a feminine image in the male psyche and the animus is a male image in the female psyche. The anima/animus represents the "true self" rather than the image we present to others and serves as the primary source of communication with the collective unconscious. (link)
The Shadow

  • The shadow is an archetype that consists of the sex and life instincts. The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others. Jung suggested that the shadow can appear in dreams or visions and may take a variety of forms. It might appear as a snake, a monster, a demon, a dragon or some other dark, wild or exotic figure. (link)

The Ego

  • The ego is the centre of consciousness. It is identity. It is 'I'. But it is not the totality of the psyche. Being the king of consciousness amounts to dominion over a small but important land surrounded by a wide world of terra incognita. The more aware the King is of lands beyond his domain the more secure he will be on his throne, but he must not be tempted to open the borders to it all. In Jungian theory the unconscious is far too vast to ever be made fully conscious, poking about in it is not without danger, yet ignoring it is also a mistake since it leads to a brittle fixedness which at best impedes growth, at worst can break when under the pressure of the 'threat' of change. (link)

external image 353770511.jpg

The Persona

  • the public personality, with which the ego must avoid identifying so that the ego can make a conscious decision to employ or not to employ it
  • The persona is how we present ourselves to the world. The word "persona" is derived from a Latin word that literally means "mask." It is not a literal mask, however. The persona represents all of the different social masks that we where among different groups and situations. It acts as a mask to shield the ego from negative images. According to Jung, the persona may appear in dreams and take a number of different forms. (link)

  • instincts and primordial patterns located in the collective unconscious

Discernment in Transformation: A Jungian View (p. 166)

  • Boyd and Myers point out that transformation is not solely rational.
  • A complement to rational learning is the process of discernment, which involves the development of what I would call "presentational awareness." Discernment leads to a contemplative insight, "a personal illumination gained by putting things together and seeing them in their relational wholeness", and a union between ourselves and our world.
  • Discernment is made up of three activities:
    • receptivity or openness to the symbols, images, and other influences of the shadow, anima, animus, persona, and archetypal configurations;
    • recognition, awareness that an experience is authentic, that is, vitally connected to our own inner history as persons; and
    • grieving, "a kind of 'talking back' to the extrarational message demanding . . . attention at this time". Grieving, in turn, has four phases:
      • numbness and panic,
      • pining and protest,
      • disorganization and despair, and
      • restabilization and reintegration.
    • the essential questions for transformative education concern whether the learner is learning to develop
      • dialogues between the ego and the other components of the self,
      • awareness and understanding of the way in which cultural symbols impact upon his or her life, and
      • awareness and understanding of symbols and the processes of symbolization.
    • Boyd and Myers suggest that the essential virtues for the transformative educator are
      • seasoned guidance, which can help the learner create an inner dialogue, and
      • compassionate criticism, which can help the learner question his or her present way of viewing reality and enter the process of discernment.

The Phases of Transformation (p. 168)

  1. A disorienting dilemma
  2. Self-examination with feelings of guilt or shame
  3. A critical assessment of epistemic, sociocultural, or psychic assumptions
  4. Recognition that one's discontent and the process of transformation are shared and that others have negotiated a similar change
  5. Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
  6. Planning of a course of action
  7. Acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one's plans
  8. Provisional trying of new roles
  9. Building of competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships; and
  10. A reintegration into one's life on the basis of conditions dictated by one's new perspective.

Areas of difficulty in perspective transformation (p. 171)
difficult negotiation, compromise, stalling, backsliding, self-deception, and failure

  1. At the beginning, when the learner is exposing to critical analysis his or her established ideas, values, and sense of order, as well as the feelings that he or she has about these assumptions.
  2. The other is the point at which a commitment to reflective action logically should follow insight but is so threatening or demanding that the learner is immobilized.
    • This is the point in the transformative learning process at which the conative (behavior directed toward action or change and including impulse, desire, volition, and striving) plays a specific role. It is not enough to understand intellectually the need to change the way one acts; one requires emotional strength and an act of will in order to move forward.
    • Backsliding in the process of transformation may be explained by the learner acquiring an insight that results in a transformation in meaning scheme that may contribute over time toward a change in meaning perspective but at the moment comes into conflict with the established meaning perspective and is overwhelmed by it. The learner then becomes unable to act upon his or her new insight. The power of the threat presented by actions inspired by a new meaning perspective depends upon the nature of the threat, how pressing the disorienting dilemma was that initiated the process and how effectively the learner has personalized and integrated into his or her experience what has been learned about the epistemic, sociocultural, or psychic forces that affect his or her way of understanding.

Disorienting Dilemmas (p. 173)

  • Examples of trigger events
    • life-shattering occurrences such as natural disasters,
    • they may be personal upheavals,
    • troubling contradictions between meaning systems,
    • external social events,
    • cumulative internal changes.
  • The initial confrontation of a dilemma may be
    • self-induced (as when a writer becomes involved in the act of writing or when learning results in works of art or invention),
    • induced by life circumstances, or
    • induced by other people such as an educator or a therapist.
  • Examples of generation of consciousness
    • unexpected and original world vision, like the Copernican Revolution (sun the center of the universe versus the earth the center)
    • appropriating a perspective promoted by a powerful or charismatic leader, as in early socialization or entry into a religious or political cult (Cult = A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false... But this is not what Mezirow believes. One must grow in a positive light to be more inclusive, discriminating, permeable (open), and integrative of experience, not the opposite, page 110.) + affective insight was added later, noted in -->(Wiessner & Mezirow, 2000, Theory building and the search for common ground, page 345, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)
    • assimilating a ready-made reality, as in secondary socialization into a profession or discipline.
    • appropriation of a meaning perspective created in a special environment such as a culture circle, a consciousness-raising group, or a class.
    • appropriation of a "bridge-paradigm" in a secure "practice laboratory" environment such as that of T-groups, which can mediate between old perspectives and the application of new ones in everyday situations.\
  • a shift or leap of transcendence
    • an awareness that a new perspective transcends an old one.
    • often involves sudden insight, but it also can occur as a gradual revelatory awareness.
    • This transformative experience
      • is described as a leap of faith, creative leap, contextual shift, metamorphosis, reconstruction, reframing, or perceptual alternation,
      • results in heightened awareness; personal power; capacityfor action, reflection, or decision; and developmental progressor emancipation.
  • personal commitment
    • involves a decision to commit to the new perspective: an act of intention, purpose, and will.
  • grounding and development
    • refers to a confirmation, application, implementation, and extension of the new perspective that involves the development of new skills, understandings, and behaviors
    • personal and group support to be most essential at this stage

"Finding new recipe knowledge," Musgrove writes, "does not necessarily sustain a new reality: it supports and even strengthens the old. . . . New typifications and categories can be minimized and isolated, accommodated to old structures of meaning, leaving former definitions of the self and the world substantially intact" (p 175/6)

At the Workplace (p. 181)
First-order thinking

  • Involve empathically taking another person's or group's perspective and listening to intuition

Second-order thinking

  • included perspective taking, monitoring thought processes, gathering information, and using analytical processes
  • Monitoring involved maintaining honesty, dealing with real issues, trying not to categorize people, avoiding approaching a problem emotionally, and looking for opportunities in any changing situation.

Critically Reflective characteristics

  • using the following analytic strategies:
    • making pieces fit,
    • searching for a unifying principle,
    • looking for implications, and
    • identifying discrepancies
  • The ability to be critically reflective was traced to a pattern of questioning and critique within the family and to personal transformations such as intercultural encounters, personal illness, divorce, and failure at work.
  • look inward for direction and values rather than toward the company

Collective Transformations (p. 185)

  • Perspective transformation is a social process often involving points of view expressed by others that we initially find discordant, distasteful, and threatening but later come to recognize as indispensable to dealing with our experience.
  • When we find a promising perspective, we do not merely appropriate it but, by making an imaginative interpretation of it, construe it to make it our own.
  • The social process of perspective transformation further involves testing our new perspective on friends, peers, and mentors
  • We validate the new perspective through rational discourse
  • We also have to work out the changed relationships with others that result from our new perspective.
  • ex, Consciousness Raising: We are familiar with the power of consciousness-raising groups in the women's movement to effect personal transformations on a large scale.
    • To 'raise consciousness' means to arrive at such an awareness and to anchor the process of becoming aware in individual reality rather than in analysis and theories that were produced elsewhere"

Contractual Solidarity (p. 191)

  • is based upon a clear understanding that what each party offers will be subject to continuing critical reassessment and that as conditions change, the relationship will change as well.
  • In contractual solidarity there are no "true believers" or zealots who abandon reflective critique and critical dialogue in favor of blind deference to group codes, norms, authority, or ideology.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. CA

Chapter 7, Fostering Transformative Adult Learning, p. 196-226.

Ideal Conditions for Adult Learning (p. 198)

  • Have accurate and complete information
  • Are free from coercion and self-deception
  • Have the ability to weigh evidence and evaluate arguments
  • Have the ability to be critically reflective
  • Are open to alternative perspectives
  • Have equality of opportunity to participate,
  • Will accept an informed, objective, and rational consensus as a legitimate test of validity.

Free, full adult participation in critical discourse and resulting action clearly requires (p. 199)

  • freedom,
  • democratic participation,
  • equality,
  • reciprocity, and
  • prior education
    • through which one has learned to assess evidence effectively,
    • make and understand relevant arguments,
    • develop critical judgment, and
    • engage in critical reflection.
  • reasonable minimal level of safety, mental and physical health, shelter, and employment opportunity, as well as acceptance of others with different perspectives and social cooperation.
  • Values such as freedom, democracy, justice, equality, and social cooperation may be cherished so universally at least partly because they represent the essential conditions under which human beings can make sense or meaning of their experience.

Ethics of Transformative Learning (p. 201/2)

  • Education for transformative learning is ethical as long as the educator does not attempt to force or manipulate learners into accepting his or her own perspective but instead encourages learners to choose freely from among the widest range of relevant viewpoints.
  • However, an educator is not bound to help learners carry out actions that conflict with the educator's own code of ethics even if the learners decided upon those actions after rational discourse.

Role of the Adult Educator (p. 206)

  • encourage such a critique and at the same time keep it as rational as possible.
  • to be an empathic provocateur and role model,
  • a collaborative learner who is critically self-reflective and encourages others to consider alternative perspectives
  • a guide who sets and enforces the norms governing rational discourse
  • encourages the solidarity and group support that is necessary when learners become threatened because comfortably established beliefs and values have been challenged.
  • helps learners link self-insights with social norms and thereby realize that their dilemmas are shared
  • helps learners understand the process of adult learning in which they are participating
  • helps the learners see and come to grips with the discrepancies between their avowed beliefs and their actions

How Adult Educators foster TL (p. 207) ( or control forces that permit power to be used to coerce or distort communications)

  • setting and enforcing norms of participation in these communities that embody the ideal conditions of learning insofar as possible, including rules regarding equal opportunity to participate, role reciprocity, "bracketing" biases, focusing on issues, hearing alternative arguments, examining assumptions, and seeking consensus.
  • foster a mutual sense of solidarity among participants that entails acceptance of and identification with the values of the community.
  • modeling - differentiate between assuming a leadership role in social action situations and helping to prepare learners to assume such a role (think Freire)
  • Create "spheres of freedom"--create communities of critical discourse that are authentic spaces in which the "dialectic of freedom" may be achieved.

Social Goals versus Personal Development (p. 208/9)

  • Freedom, equality, democracy, literacy, and emancipation are not to be understood as handmaidens of modernization or national development but rather as necessary conditions for making meaning of experience that are implicit in the nature of human communication and learning.
  • Rather than seeking these abstract political goals directly, education facilitates the process of learning, which ideally depends for its implementation upon the realization of these political conditions.
  • Education is the handmaiden of learning, not of politics; but significant learning, involving personal transformations, is a social process with significant implications for social action.
  • When adults learn to correct the distorted sociolinguistic assumptions that have constrained the adoption of more developmentally advanced meaning perspectives, learning to take social action—often collective social action—becomes an integral part of transformative learning. Education thus can help learners construe personal meaning rationally and derive political goals that inspire the emotional commitment that motivates action. Adults can learn what freedom, equality, democracy, and emancipation mean in microcosm as they strive toward the realization of these ideals in communities of rational discourse, and they can act politically to create interpersonal relationships, organizations, and societies in which others can discover the meaning of these values as well.
  • Personal transformation involving sociolinguistic distortions can happen only when a perspective of social change is involved, and social change, in turn, depends upon personal transformation.
Purpose of Adult Education

Adult Education and Social Action (p. 209)
Social action means different things to different people.

  • involvement with others in assessing the validity of a collective frame of reference.
  • the process of bringing about changes in relationships (for example, between a woman who has had a consciousness- raising experience and her husband, resulting in a revision in traditional roles),
  • changes in organizations (managers replacing old perspectives that emphasize command and control with new perspectives that involve guidance for employee decision making and social democracy in the workplace),
  • changes in systems (collective social action to change political, economic, educational, bureaucratic, or other systems). Changing systems is a difficult and often threatening political undertaking that normally involves an extended time period of sustained involvement.
  • Taking action as a result of critical reflection may be impeded by lack of information, situational constraints, psychological blocks, or the absence of required skills.
  • Empowerment (p. 210) by this definition, could be an outcome of perspective transformation. Empowerment has three features:
    • a more potent and efficacious sense of self,
    • more critical understanding of social and political relations, and
    • more functional strategies and resources for social and political action.
  • Social action educator Lovett notes that transformative education alone is insufficient for effective social action: "The liberation of more and more people's efforts is not the problem, since efforts are wasted without a macro-economic strategy that can coordinate them successfully, which is precisely what is lacking."
    • significant social transformation means making changes in the economic system, and this requires a strategy and opportunities that go beyond local activism.
  • Transformation theory—and adult educators—can promise only to help in the first step of political change, emancipatory education that leads to personal transformation, and to share the belief that viable strategies for public change will evolve out of this.
  • Social activist educatorshelp learners learn to analyze their common problems through participatory research and the tactics of collective social action. Their role is limited to
    • fostering critical awareness and insight into the history and consequences of accepted social norms, cultural codes, ideologies, and institutionalized practices that oppress learners;
    • helping learners discover options for action and to anticipate the consequences of these options by becoming familiar with previous efforts to bring about change;
    • building solidarity with others similarly oppressed;
    • helping learners develop the confidence and the ability to work with others to take collective action, to interpret feedback on their efforts, to deal with adversity, and to learn direct-action tactics for dealing with the system.
  • it should be noted that although social action is crucial, it cannot be the only goal of adult learning and education.
    • Just as there are diverse forms of social action, so there are diverse forms of perspective transformation—sociolinguistic, epistemic, and psychological—and each has its own form of praxis.
    • Transformative learning experiences that result in epistemic or psychological changes may only very indirectly lead to change in a specific social practice or institutionalized ideology, or they may not lead to collective action at all.
    • To recognize the importance of epistemic and psychic distortions is not to unduly "psychologize" adult learning or to diminish the importance of sociolinguistic distortions and the need for social action.

The Role of Adult Educators in Social Action (p. 211/2)
All adult educators have the responsibility to do the following:

  1. Actively foster learners' critical reflection upon their assumptions, not only concerning the content and process of problem solving, but also concerning the premises behind their sociolinguistic, epistemic, and psychological beliefs.
  2. Establish communities of rational discourse in classrooms, workshops, conferences, and action settings, with norms consistent with the ideal conditions of learning, within which beliefs may be questioned and consensually validated.
  3. Help learners learn how to take appropriate action resulting from transformative learning to the extent feasible.
In addition, adult educators who administer programs for the public have a professional responsibility to do the following:

  1. Make sure that instructors understand and are committed to their basic responsibilities (see preceding).
  2. Allocate available program resources to extend educational opportunities for critical discourse to those most in need of them.
  3. Offer educational opportunities for critical discourse that address current public issues. All adult educators have a responsibility to participate actively in public initiatives in support of political, economic, and social changes that assist all adult learners to overcome constraints that hinder their full, free participation in rational dialogue.

Purpose of Adult Education (p. 214)
Adult education's primary objective is

  • to help those whom society deems fully responsible for their acts to become more reflective in posing and solving problems,
  • to become more critically self-reflective,
  • to participate more fully and freely in rational discourse and action,
  • to move developmentally toward more reliable perspectives

Educators in this domain are concerned

  • primarily with fostering the ability to participate democratically in critical discourse, through which learners assess the validity of assertions made and implied as people communicate with each other.

A program designed to encourage communicative learning, therefore, should have as its goal the establishment of the ideal conditions for rational discourse and adult
learning listed earlier in this chapter. Such a program should assist learners to do the following:

  • Decontextualize
  • Become more aware of the history, contexts (norms, codes, reaction patterns, perceptual filters), and consequences of their beliefs
  • Become more reflective and critical in their assessment of both the content and the process of problem solving and of their own ways of participating in this process
  • "Bracket" preconceived ideas and openly examine evidence and assess arguments
  • Make better inferences, more appropriate generalizations, and more logically coherent arguments
  • Be more open to the perspectives of others
  • Rely less on psychological defense mechanisms and be more willing to accept the authority of provisional consensual validation of expressed ideas.

Transformative or emancipatory learning involves all the above, but in addition it focuses upon a critique of premises that need reassessment in order to correct inadequately developed or distorted epistemic, sociolinguistic, or psychological preconceptions. It opens language to both redefinition through reflection and the accretion of new layers of meaning continuously as we seek to be understood and to understand others in dialogue.

Measure Transformative Learning (p. 220)

  • Standardized Tests failed to measure changes in locus of control, personal competence, or self-concept within educational programs concerned with fostering transformative learning
  • perform an evaluation of these matters by focusing upon changes in reflection — the extent to which the learner has reflected on the content and process of problem solving, both in the context of thoughtful action and in retroactive reflection, and the quality of this reflection.
  • The educator also should attend to resulting changes in meaning schemes and their consequences in action. When the learner is confronted with a disorienting dilemma, the educator can focus on the extent and quality of the learner's premise reflection and the resulting perspective transformation and reflective action.
  • other evidence of change should focus on
    • progressive growth in decontextualization;
    • greater openness to the perspectives of others;
    • greater awareness of the sources and consequences of norms, codes, reaction patterns, and perceptual filters that make up the context of daily life;
    • increased quality of participation in and willingness to submit to the mediating authority of reflective discourse;
    • changes in long established patterns of expectations and behaviors.
    Tennant (1998, p. 374) sees as a test of transformative learning (Mezirow, 2000, page 24, Learning to think like an adult, from MDDE612 reading list)
    • "the extent to which it exposes the social and cultural embeddedness and taken-for-granted assumptions in which the self is located; explore[s] the interests served by the continuation of the self thus positioned;
    • incite[s] a refusal to be positioned in this way when the interests served are those of domination and oppression;
    • encourage[ s] alternative readings of the text of experience."

Chapter Summary
Propositions about adult education presented in this chapter include the following:
  1. The goal of adult education is to help adult learners become more critically reflective, participate more fully and freely in rational discourse and action, and advance developmentally by moving toward meaning perspectives that are more inclusive, discriminating, permeable, and integrative of experience.
  2. The central responsibility of the adult educator who wishes to encourage transformative learning is to foster learners' reflection upon their own beliefs or meaning schemes through a critical examination of the history, context, and consequences of their assumptions and premises. A collateral responsibility is to create communities of discourse with norms that are consistent with the ideal conditions of learning.
  3. The ideal conditions for participating in critical discourse also constitute the ideal conditions for adult learning.
  4. Initiation and facilitation of transformative learning by an educator are ethical, even though neither the educator nor the learner can predict the outcomes of the process and even though actions resulting from the process may be dangerous or may be impossible to take at a given time.
  5. Education for transformative learning is ethical as long as the educator does not attempt to force or manipulate learners into accepting his or her own perspective but instead encourages learners to choose freely from among the widest range of relevant viewpoints. However, an educator is not bound to help learners carry out actions that conflict with the educator's own code of ethics even if the learners decided upon those actions after rational discourse.
  6. Adult educators should have sufficient psychological knowledge and sensitivity to be able to help healthy learners deal with common psychic distortions in meaning perspective that impede negotiation of difficult life transitions. Educators should be able to distinguish between these learners and those whose mental problems require professional psychotherapeutic treatment.
  7. All transformative learning involves taking action to implement insights derived from critical reflection. When distortions addressed by transformative learning are sociocultural, social action becomes an integral part of the process of transformative learning. Social action may involve production of changes in relationships, organizations, or political, economic, or cultural systems. Changing systems involves collective political action, which is often a long and difficult process.
  8. Freedom, democracy, equality, justice, and social cooperation are among the necessary conditions for optimal participation in critical discourse. Adult educators should actively support both educational and social initiatives that advance these values. They also should assist learners to understand what is involved in taking collective social or political action. Although education for collective social action is an area of specialization within adult education, every adult educator should have basic knowledge of this process.
  9. The learning process and educational interventions— needs assessment and setting of objectives, determination of readiness for learning, program or curriculum development, instruction, and evaluation — are inherently different depending on whether the intent of the learner involves instrumental or communicative learning. Although both domains of learning play a part in most learning experiences, emphasis on one or the other calls for interventions appropriate to that domain. Educational approaches appropriate for instrumental learning often have been misapplied to communicative learning.
  10. A learner's real interests are those that the learner would prefer if he or she had more knowledge, greater freedom, and less distorted meaning perspectives. The authenticity of a learner's interests is measured by their congruence with the learner's self-concept or concept of the good life. Assessment of learner "needs" should be broadened to include their real interests.
  11. Evaluation of gains made as a result of transformative learning should attempt to map the learner's initial meaning perspective and compare it with his or her later meaning perspective. Differences analyzed should include changes in interests, goals, awareness of problems, awareness of contexts, critical reflectivity and action, openness to alternative perspectives, ability to participate freely and fully in rational discourse, and willingness to accept consensual validation as a mode of problem solving in communicative learning.