The constellations of our neural networks, endlessly firing new points of light. The waxing of our skills, interests and passions. The physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive dimensions merge and delineate around spiralling clusters of knowledge and perception. And, of course, the community and wider world which is networked around us. All interconnected, all interdependent, all vital to our learning and growth.
When a learner walks through the doors of a learning environment, any division between that place and the outside world is purely artificial. They carry their world with them; not only their hopes, worries and passions, but the whole community of people, voices and experiences that help shape them.
And who in this community is more central than their parents, guardians and mentors? The first learning guides we all have. It is an incredible honour of trust and responsibility to share in that role as learning guides, and one we take seriously, but we don’t do it alone. The value of collaboration and community is central to a learning paradigm that supports, but does not direct learning.
Learning is lifelong, life wide and pays no regard to where you happen to be standing. Wherever they happen to be, a learner needs their community. Making sure the doors are open to collaboration and co-creation of learning with parents is a fundamental part of the Learnlife Paradigm, and here is how we do it.
Parents are learners’ partners in the learning environment
The world is not static, and nor should our learning environments be fixed and fossilised. Parents are encouraged to be part of Learnlife hackathons where, together with learners and learning guides, we move through an iterative design process to co-create approaches around assessment, feedback, content, events and everything else that makes up the learning journey.
Most recently, our community of parents were involved in adapting our approach to multilingualism in the learning environment. This was brought about not by presenting a finished product for feedback and review, but from asking parents the question of what they think the world will be like when their children come of age, and what approach to language learning would fit their needs.
As instant translation apps and AI platforms will likely be taking a great deal of the strain in multilingual communication, we agreed together that developing the skills associated with language acquisition were far more important than committing learners to one language or another that was not of their own choice.
Effective language learning, like anything else, has evidence-based strategies that support it, and which will support a learner to build competence in any language they choose as their path unfolds before them. Memorising the prepositions which take the accusative in German (they spell the cool mnemonic acronym DOGWUF*, in case you’re interested) is not as important as learning about the strategies of creating mnemonic devices in the first place.
With parents on board for the design process, there is a greater shared sense of purpose, understanding of the why, which strengthens the network of support around the learners themselves. Everyone is invested and involved.
Parents have often told us that their children come home from Learnlife talking about learning. The conversations tend to go beyond what they did, into an awareness of how and why they did it and how they feel about that.
In our Thrive workshops, we extend the offer to parents to come in and become part of the learning experience themselves. If your child arrives home to deliver an excited insight into the neuroscience of a growth mindset, or just slumps into a chair, expressing worry and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic, both situations can be challenging for parents.
By being part of Thrive workshops, we explore such things together, to share understanding of how best to support our children with such growing self awareness in the exploration of their Ikigai, or simply how best to talk to them about their worries and anxieties. This collaborative approach means a more joined up approach to supporting learners, security through consistency, and an opportunity for us all to grow and learn together. We know a lot about learning, but nobody knows your child like you do, after all.
Parents are busy. Many of us are parents too, and we understand the demands of balancing career and home life. The door is always open in Learnlife for parents to take part in workshops and projects, because we can adapt to your schedule, rather than the other way around.
For parents, we often send articles, information, news and new ideas to help you support your children’s learning at home and elsewhere. But more than this, the door is open to collaboration inside Learnlife as well.
Do you have a particular passion for something? Come and share it with the learners, and maybe it will spark something for them too. Want to come and be part of a studio session, getting messy with artwork, or trying out your ideas with a 3D printer? The door is open. Is your business doing something that learners might find interesting, for a visit or even an internship? We would love to hear from you about this.
Learning is constellational; always expanding and in perpetual motion, but children can and should be supported to see that and embrace it. Collaboration ensures a network of support and shared purpose around the children who are at the centre of it all. Collaboration is in our DNA, not only as a movement for positive change in education, but as human beings working together for a better future. Let’s all grow towards that together, and see what we can build.
Join the Alliance and take part in reimagining and spreading future-focused, learning innovation.
*it’s actually DOGWUFEB but we didn’t want to spoil it.