What is a transformational learning experience? Author Jack Mezirow says that “transformative learning is the process of effecting change in a frame of reference”. Our frames of reference are the experiences that make us who we are. This is our culture, our education, our families and our habits. We all have set frames of reference that we learn and work within that shape how we feel about others and the world. These start to develop from birth. The children here at SouthSide all come into our classrooms with a set of beliefs that have been shaped by their experiences in life thus far. Some of these experiences are positive, others not so much. But it is our job as educators to not only take into consideration these frames of reference when planning for the children, but also to try to help the children think and learn outside of them. When we stretch the children to think about things in a way that they have never considered or we expose them to an idea that is completely unfamiliar, we are encouraging transformational learning. The children and families who walk into our doors are looking for a better future. It is our job to push them towards this through new and innovative approaches to education and family service. We cannot think about teaching and learning in the same old ways, if we want our children to have successful futures.
Here is an example of transformation learning in action. The children are collaborating in order to complete a project. They are communicating and sharing ideas…one of the children is documenting the progress with the classroom’s digital camera. Just think…a year ago 3 out of the 4 children in this picture were barely speaking English!