Review the reading regarding transformative learning and consider your own educational experiences. Describe a situation where you experienced transformative learning. Was this learning opportunity self-directed (meaning you came to it through your own research or experiences) or would you describe it as “faculty-led” (meaning transformative learning was achieved in an educational setting under the guidance of faculty) instead?
Transformative learning is a process of gaining new insights, knowledge, and skills that can change a person’s perspective on life. This concept involves a critical reflection on our assumptions, beliefs, and values, which can lead to a significant shift in our thinking, behavior, and identity. Transformative learning is a complex and multi-dimensional process that can occur in various contexts, including formal education, work, personal experiences, and social interactions. In this essay, I will review the reading on transformative learning and describe a situation where I experienced transformative learning.
According to Mezirow (1991), transformative learning involves a process of disorienting dilemmas, critical reflection, exploration of new perspectives, and action. The process of transformative learning begins with a disorienting dilemma, which challenges our existing assumptions, beliefs, and values. This disorienting dilemma can arise from a variety of sources, such as a personal crisis, a new experience, or exposure to diverse viewpoints. Once we encounter this disorienting dilemma, we engage in critical reflection, which involves questioning our assumptions, beliefs, and values and exploring alternative perspectives. Through this process of critical reflection, we gain new insights and knowledge that can lead to a transformation in our thinking and behavior. Finally, we take action based on these new insights and knowledge, which can lead to a transformation in our identity.
I have experienced transformative learning in several contexts throughout my life, both self-directed and faculty-led. However, one experience that stands out to me as particularly transformative was during my undergraduate education. I was enrolled in a course on social justice and diversity, which was a required course for my major. At the time, I thought the course would be a straightforward examination of social justice issues and their impact on society. However, the course content and discussions challenged my assumptions, beliefs, and values in ways that I had not anticipated.
Throughout the course, we explored issues related to race, gender, sexuality, class, and other forms of diversity. We read academic articles, watched documentaries, engaged in group discussions, and participated in experiential learning activities. These experiences led me to critically reflect on my own assumptions, beliefs, and values, which had been shaped by my upbringing and cultural background. I began to question my assumptions about the world and my place in it, and I explored new perspectives that challenged my previous ways of thinking.
One experience in particular stands out to me as a transformative moment. During a group discussion, a classmate shared their experience of being discriminated against due to their race. As a person of privilege, I had never experienced discrimination based on my race, and I initially struggled to understand their perspective. However, through active listening and empathetic engagement, I was able to gain new insights into their experience and the larger social structures that perpetuate discrimination. This experience led me to question my assumptions about race and privilege and to seek out further learning and action in this area.
In retrospect, I would describe this experience as both self-directed and faculty-led. While the course was led by faculty, the transformative learning that occurred was largely self-directed, as I was the one who engaged in critical reflection and sought out new perspectives. However, the faculty and the course content provided the structure and resources that facilitated this transformative learning process.
In conclusion, transformative learning is a complex and multi-dimensional process that can occur in various contexts. It involves a process of disorienting dilemmas, critical reflection, exploration of new perspectives, and action. Through transformative learning, we can gain new insights, knowledge, and skills that can lead to a significant shift in our thinking, behavior, and identity. My own experience of transformative learning in a social justice and diversity course challenged my assumptions, beliefs, and values and led to a transformation in my thinking and behavior.