The Meta Journey Draft

This is an early draft design of a learning journey, our first one. All learners will take this journey. Below is an outline of each drop, exploration topics for the first three meetings, and the ongoing drumbeat of topics intended to develop learning skill. Unlike the other journeys, we will spend 15 minutes visiting Meta at the start of every Circles session.

Imagine that each drop is injected into a particular circle’s whatsapp discussion, every day or so. When someone responds to a question, it may or may not spur ongoing discussion. The meeting exploration process is outlined here.

This needs a ton of work. I’m looking forward to the input of the real experts advising us that have experience designing learning journeys.

A. Pre-kickoff drops (a “drop” is short content or a reflection injected into chat)
B. Orientation to Learning to Learn: paper, podcast and/or movie (20 minutes)
C. Kickoff Exploration: Committing
D. 6 drops
E. Meeting One Exploration: Visualizing Goals
F. 6 drops
G. Meeting Two Exploration: Beginner’s Mind
H. Follow-up Drops and Meeting opener topics for all next meetings

A. Pre-kickoff drops

1. Joke. My ideal learning experience. This is what we’re trying to build: 60 second clip

2. What we’re interested in is “skills acquisition.” Let’s take wide definition of a skill. Being honest is a skill. Showing up for work on time is a skill. Collecting an inventory of people to delegate to (plumbers, accountants, you name it) is a skill. Creating, welding, meditating, using Evernote to track stuff – skills.

I’m not against learning facts. I agree with David Brook’s op-ed that “The cathedrals of knowledge and wisdom are based on the foundations of factual acquisition and cultural literacy.” But can’t we afford to spend less energy on teaching facts now? They are widely available. And the world is too wide and dynamic for a teacher or employer to keep up with important facts. Maybe if we can back off a little on shoving facts down the collective gullet, people will go after the facts they care about, and build lasting skill while doing it.

Another way to look at it all is “Knowledge is the capacity to act.”

Q:  What is the quadratic equation (don’t cheat)? – answers sent around the circle
Q2: What skills do you want to learn? – answers sent around the circle, noted by guide

3. Some messed up stuff. We have some less-than-optimal beliefs, habits, and practices about learning.

Gandhi – Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.

Graduating. The past tense word “educated,” stunts growth. It prevents people from paying attention to maintaining important skills.  Worse, adult education has a light stigma, a tinge of the remedial, a waft of seekers and weirdos. Life-long learning sounds like retirees taking art history classes.  Most people go after degrees for any reason except to learn stuff.

Q: What do you do to learn, now? How many hours out of about 600/month do you  spend learning? What activities exactly are you counting as learning?

4. Some messed up stuff. We have some less-than-optimal beliefs, habits, and practices about learning.

Minerva founder Ben Nelson did a one-week wine exploration of Argentina guided by an expert, and a similar one-week tour of Chile that he had to research and organize himself.  Two years later, Ben remembers barrels about Chilean wine and only drops about Argentinian wine.
We need a new word – our old expectations of a teacher are obsolete. The subject matter can now be decoupled from the teacher. People can stop waiting around for someone to shove information into their heads. We do need people to help us learn, but in very different roles than we are used to. When learners own their learning, it sticks. I like the saying “There is no teaching, only learning.”  Socrates knew this, Maria Montessori knew this, and recently a whole battery of “learning scientists” have rediscovered it.

Q: Are you a good teacher? Do you wanna be? Why?

5. Some messed up stuff. We have some less-than-optimal beliefs, habits, and practices about learning.

Classes. In the 1800s, we lifted our education model from the Prussians. It efficiently marched people through material in a defined interval of time, called a class. All higher education in the US runs on this system, and usually uses units called credit-hours. Think 12-week courses, then a test. If you score 70%, you pass, get your credits, and move on.  Formal corporate training generally seems to copy this idea. Why doesn’t a course end whenever a learner gets to 100%? Then there would be no gaps in their understanding of the material, and learners can move on confidently. People learn at different speeds – maybe some can finish faster? Courses need to be structured with the goal of achieving competency or mastery, not just logging the hours. This would be a huge mindset and institutional change.

6. Some messed up stuff. We have some less-than-optimal beliefs, habits, and practices about learning.

Tests. Sal Khan of Khan academy has a riff on how our test-driven schools are messed up. Tests take a snapshot and don’t measure how well you will retain the information. They randomly discriminate against those that happened not to study the subset of the subject on the test. And they punish failure, one of the best ways to learn. He’s talking about summative assessments, which measure what you learned AFTER a class. Formative assessments – little pop quizzes and teachers that use the socratic method and so forth, which help you figure out what you are missing while you are learning, and get you to interact and wrestle with the material, are helpful.

7. Some messed up stuff. We have some less-than-optimal beliefs, habits, and practices about learning.

The way we organize knowledge in school – math, science, english, etc. – is another vestigial artifact. The problem exists in corporate training as well, where, except at the level of “leadership training” we tend to organize around roles – “sales training.” Yet research by Daniel Goleman and others shows that more than two-thirds of success is related to “softer” factors. How can we work on the pieces underneath the technical skills?

B. The Framework Paper, Podcast, Movie

The main “chunk” of content in this journey
(so has to be awesome)
This should take 20 minutes to review
We’ve posted an initial design for this here

C. Kickoff Exploration: Commitment

Discussion question. Group picks one to start with. A leader prepares, opens in depth.

  • Life is busy. How do you keep a commitment? What has worked and where have you failed?
  • Do you help anyone else in your life keep a commitment?
  • Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
  • What commitment are you prepared to make to this Circle? (guide can put some examples on screen).

D. Next Drops – mostly around goals and visualization

Draft coming very soon…

8. Art of Learning: Entity vs. Incremental Excerpt (1-2) pages

E. Exploration Two: Goals

  • Share your most important three goals right now in vivid detail?
  • How will you know if they are completed? Measure progress?
  • Do you have all the skills you need to complete the goal? What skills might help?
  • What are your personal goals for this Circle?

F. Next Drops – mostly around Flow

14. Quotes from Art of Learning
15. More from Art of Learning
16.Ted Talk: Brene Brown on Vulnerability
17. Pick a problem and ask the group for help with it.
18. Share a mistake you made this week
19. Shirzad Chamine’s 6 minutes

G. Exploration Three – Beginner’s mind

  • Describe your feelings starting Circles?
  • Do you have all the help you need? What stops you from getting help?
  • Are you competing with anyone in the Circle right now?
  • What are three things you can work on to become a better listener?

H. Follow-up Drops and Meeting opener topics for all next meetings

Draft coming very soon…

Daniel Hoffman
Entrepreneur, Learner, Synthesizer, Designer, Connector, Ne'er-do-well

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