The core promise of Circles is to make better and more eager learners. We are looking for a light but accurate way to assess this, perhaps something like a growth mindset assessment. If someone joins as a “5” on a scale of 1 to 10, then a year in a Circle will move them to a sustained, lifetime 8. Gradually, we will take on lower starting scores, and increase the range of our impact. Can we tackle 1s? Circles is like weight-watchers for a learning lifestyle.

How? Mostly, through the experience itself. Circles will be an enjoyable learning experience, offer deep connection with a few other learners, and kindle the feeling of satisfaction in goals accomplished. But Circles is also going to explicitly show people how to learn. I’m calling this the “meta” journey – learning to learn. This is the skill with exponential impact: the wish for more wishes. Having a good understanding of what works in learning will deepen and enhance the Circles experience itself. But it will also enable Circles’ learners to go beyond self-improvement and become better managers, coaches and parents.

Unfortunately, we need to unlearn some of what our education system has taught us. Classes, subjects, teaching, tests, graduating – all these conventions undermine our ability to learn optimally. There’s a lot of thinking and practices to absorb, some informed by new sources like neuroscience, others by old wisdom that our institutions have forgotten, and others that people are inventing now. We need new approaches for the 21st century marketplace.

All circles will start the meta journey at kickoff and explore it deeply in the subsequent two meetings. Afterwards, these topics and others will cycle back up into the chat stream periodically.  After the first three meetings, each meeting will briefly touch on one of the meta topics during the opening 15 minutes.

The initial meta journey is an orientation to a few major topics on “how to learn.” At some point, we will develop more intensive journeys that learners can explore further around the topic of learning-to-learn. And I expect some circles will want to explore learning more deeply. Guides will also develop deeper expertise on “meta” so that they can coach the groups as they continue their journeys.

The Framework

I included a draft explanation of the meta framework in this blog post. I’m greatly looking forward to the input of many of our esteemed advisors. This will be the guide for the meta journey, and the basis of the 20-minute orientation. But for now, here’s the basic idea:

what does learning to learn mean?

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