Learning is a lifelong process from cradle to grave. There are two types of learning from my experiences. Non-reflective learning which includes my remembering an experience and repeating it or just doing what I am told to do. Whereas, my reflective learning takes place when I plan, monitor, and reflect upon my experiences (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007, para. p. 164).
My transformative learning is connected to my experiences as Baumgartner (2001) noted, that the transformational learning process is intuitive, holistically resolving intrapsychic conflicts, and contextually based” (para. p. 17). It is through this learning that I am able to make meaning from my experiences. In my opinion, Mezirow’s (1991) theory of transformational learning promotes my authentic discourse which will help when I am an educator and by critically reflecting on my assumptions, restructuring the distortions in them and replacing them with more accurate and inclusive perspectives” (Boucouvalas & Lawrence, 2010 cited in Kasworm, Rose & Ross-Gordon, para. p. 41).
My transformational learning is complex as many theorists resonated with me such as Paulo, Friere, Mezirow, Daloz, and Boyd. I learn through symbols, emotions, conflicts, sensory input, hands on, holistically, and by interacting with others. My reflective learning is motivated and affected by internal and environmental factors. Mezirow’s theory is based on resolution of cognitive conflicts that leads to transformation, according to Clark, “…transformational learning, which can occur gradually or from a sudden, powerful experience, changes the way people see themselves and their world (Baumgartner, 2001, p. 16). Friere believed that critical consciousness refers to a process in which learners develop the ability to analyze, pose questions, and take action on the social, political, cultural, and economic contexts that influence and shape their lives” (Dirkx,1998, para. p.3). Friere also argued that education, through praxix, should foster freedom among learners by enabling them to reflect on their world and, thereby, change it (Dirkx, 1998, para, p. 2).
Reflective learning means self-revelation in the sense the more I know about myself the easier a connection can be made with a student. It means reflecting on my own perspectives, beliefs and values as Dirkx (1998) remarked, “Through critical reflection, however, we come to identify, asses and possibly reformulate key assumptions on which our perspective are constructed. (p. 4). As I critically reflect on my learning of how and why it is my reflective learning that will help me to plan and reflect upon my experiences as a fifty year old woman who is a student going for an MA in adult learning in the field of practice of contemporary social issues for adults in the LGBTIQQ community. It is in this field where I want to make positive social changes as a student and a teacher.
As I critically reflect on the here and now I realize I have been stockpiling my experiences over time and learning from them in order to be the person I am today with new goals to reach while satisfying a spiritual need to help others. What was the disorienting dilemma that led me on this journey? I was confused at 42 years old being told I was not employable due to my age, education, and 18 years in the field of accounting. I tried be sending out four different resumes, one with all my education and experience to the bare minimum, and yet no job. It was this combination of events that gave me the opportunity to critically reflect on who I want to be now and in the future. Taylor (2000b) commented, “…the triggering event or disorienting dilemma, which was originally conceptualized as a single, dramatic happening may actually be a “long cumulative process” (Baumgartner, 2001, p. 18).
Baumgartner. L. M. (2001). An Update on Transformational Learning. New directions for adult and continuing education, 89, 15-24) Retrieved from,
Dirkx, J. M. (1998). Transformative learning theory in practice of adult education: An overiew. Journal of lifelong learning, 7, 1-14. Retrieved from, http://www.iup.edu/assets/0/347/349/4951/4977/10251/af0eab12-c2ce-4d2c-b1a0-59b795415437.pdf
Kasworm, C., Rose, A. and Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2010). Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.
Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide (3rd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.