Transformational Learning Essay

1027 Words May 29th, 2011 5 Pages
"Transformational Learning"

Transformational learning is a philosophy of change. It identifies people why change is necessary, what benefits will be accrued by changing, how to change, and most importantly, how to incorporate and embrace change in education. The study of transformational learning emerged with the work of Jack Mezirow (1981, 1994, 1997). Transformational learning is defined as learning that induces more far-reaching change in the learner than other kinds of learning, especially learning experiences which shape the learner and produce a significant impact, or paradigm shift, which affects the learner's subsequent experiences (Clark, 1993). Numerous authors have published papers on various aspects of transformational
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Meaning perspectives naturally change and evolve in response to life experiences, especially those which induce powerful emotional responses in the individual. Often these life-changing events are personal crises such as divorce, death of a loved one, natural or man-made disasters and accidents, health crisis, financial upheaval, or unexpected job changes. It is these meaning perspectives which Mezirow saw as the raw material of the changes that occur in transformational learning. Mezirow (1997) further states that we do not make transformative changes in the way we learn as long as the new material fits comfortably in our existing frames of reference. Three common themes characterized Mezirow's theory of the mechanism of transformational learning in the classroom. These were experience, critical reflection, and rational discourse. The students' life experiences provided a starting point for transformational learning (Mezirow, 1991). Mezirow considered critical reflection to be the distinguishing characteristic of adult learning, and saw it as the vehicle by which one questions the validity of his world-view. He identified rational discourse as a catalyst for transformation, as it induced the various participants to explore the depth and meaning of their various world-views, and articulate those ideas to their instructor and class mates. Mezirow (1997) emphasizes that transformative learning is rooted in the way human beings communicate, and does not link it…