For the last few months, I have been trying to get along to the Royal Festival Hall on Wednesday mornings for a regular meetup discussing self-organised learning. For me, this is an offshoot of Tuttle and School of Everything: I first met several of the regular people who make it along on Wednesdays at Tuttle, and the meetup evolved out of SoE “unplugged” sessions.
The main thing I get out of the meetup is structure and conversation when I’m working from home – as one of what has been described as the “self-unemployed”, the opportunity to get out and meet like-minded people for challenging conversation is a real positive.
The overall topic is self organised learning, and I must admit that I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud being there at all: most of the people there have much more experience in education than I do, and more formal understanding of pedagogical theories and ideas.
My interest in learning – aside from a passion of learning itself – stems from my experience working in learning and development and organisation development in a corporate environment- what used to be known as “training”.
I also spent fourteen months working on a change programme developing a new school curriculum in Scotland a couple of years – but I was strictly working on programme management there, whilst others created the content. I picked up a lot of knowledge from the pedagogues I worked with, but – as much of my learning over the past few years – it was very ad hoc and, indeed, contingent.
I approach the weekly, informal discussions with others, who regularly include David Jennings, Fred Garnett, Tony Hall and Lucy Johnson, from a different perspective; but then so do they – one of the great things is that everyone comes from a different place and is willing to explore and challenge others’ views. (It won’t surprise you that one of my recurring themes is that of organisation culture…)
The group varies in number, from on occasions just two or three (some of the best conversations – though perhaps also the most random! – are when our numbers are limited!) to fifteen or more; one of the interesting things is the way the group dynamics shift depending on who can make it. One of the rewarding things is how newcomers to the group always seem to react in a very positive fashion.
Sometimes we have open, wide-ranging discussions, and sometimes a fixed topic or subject – at least for a while (before we stroll off topic…). There have been many discussions about the resources we use to manage or record our learning, technologies which institutions might use, the philosophies behind our learning (though mine is more random and emergent, I think!), the nature of informal learning, and using peer-to-peer learning in organisations. I have been meaning to make blog posts out of these – and may still do so, sometime.
There are occasional speakers who come along, too, usually organised by David – despite being a self-organising group, it still takes some organising, and David and Lucy seem to do most of that.
It strikes me that the energy of this group stems from our different interests – enough commonality to want to hear what the others have to say, enough difference to generate real debate. It is also a very open group – anyone can turn up and take part. And, apparently, we are a friendly, welcoming bunch!