The Essentials about Transformative Learning


Transformative learning is a holistic and experiential approach to learning. Its key characteristics include, first of all, the recognition that the processes of learning are as important as the goals. Secondly, these processes are not limited to engaging the intellect, yet essentially also involve the emotions and the body and, therefore, different levels of consciousness. Third, the learner needs to be receptive to the process, in order for a learning experience to happen. Fourth, the outcome is not predictable but instead is unique to each learner, in accordance with each individual's conscious choices and willingness to change.

To sum up, transformative learning is superior to approaches to learning such as transmission and transaction, because transformation does not happen through inoculation of information and beliefs. Instead, it happens through an authentic, and lasting, shift of consciousness in the learner that deepens and broadens understanding. Learners, ultimately, take ownership of their own growth toward a fuller expression of their human potential, through time.

The attainment of human potential requires awakening the feminine, most particularly in patriarchal cultures which systemically suppressed the sacred feminine. Awakening its aspects, embodied in inner ways of knowing, is essential prior to the further journey to wholeness through alignment of the feminine principle with the masculine principle.

Various other models, sometimes called transformational learning, are practiced today. My own formulation, however, evolved through an interdisciplinary graduate school programme originally called Global Transformation Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). This programme was renamed Transformative Learning, with an environmental focus. Some of us, as graduate students who already were experienced professionals, then developed further psychological and spiritual formulations.

I entered graduate school, for example, already grounded in the conscious awareness that global transformation cannot happen without personal transformation. But, that intellectual belief did not drop into my body until a transformative moment a few years later, when I attended an evening workshop titled "Spiritual Psychology: Restoring the Soul, Healing the Planet," facilitated by American spiritual psychologist Tom Yeomans. This 1996 event was the first time that I witnessed someone acknowledging the interrelationship between the personal and the global. That workshop led me to train in psychosynthesis, a spiritual psychology.

A `transformative moment' is a pivotal experience that shifts your consciousness in such a way that how you see the universe, and your own existence in it, is forever changed. The reason is, your consciousness has broken free from a former, more limiting state of awareness. Such moments happen serendipitously throughout life, and cannot be predicted nor scheduled.

For authentic transformative learning requires transformation of energy at every level of our consciousness and, furthermore, not once yet several times, on the spiral journey towards the fuller expression of our human potential, in accordance with our willingness to grow.

All of my professional activities are infused with transformative learning, whether writing, workshops, teaching, mentoring, public speaking or filmmaking. My intentionality is not simply to awaken human potential in the individual yet, as well, to present learning experiences that awaken each person to the fact that we are energetically interconnected with all planetary life and how our actions, and/or indifference, profoundly impact on the wider world.

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