Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Challenging Our Assumptions

Our underlying assumptions constitute our points of view and unknown to us, they guide many decisions that we make on a daily basis including the ones that we make as learning designers. To add to the challenge, assumptions are not always stated explicitly. There are many implicit assumptions that effect how we see, think, feel and act. Challenging these assumptions means questioning the everyday things we take for granted. It is tough to do but worth the effort. Here's a story from my life where I challenged one of my underlying assumptions.

When I started out in this profession, there was one particular area about adult learning that I had not thought about deeply. That was the role of spirituality in the way we approach self-development and learning. And when I say spirituality, I speak of meaning-making and not religion per se.

As I was learning about learning, I started to explore my own view of spirituality and my assumptions around learning, growth and self-development. That’s when I realized that my view was being predominantly filtered by the eastern philosophy having been born and brought up in that community. It was only a decade ago when I started working closely with folks who were born and brought up in a western philosophy that this assumption truly became explicit and I started to challenge it more consciously.

After questioning my own assumptions and uncovering some of the underlying beliefs, I now spend a lot of time learning about different cultures and practices. I think it helps me refine my own beliefs about learning and offers one of the many guiding posts in my practice as an adult educator. As a facilitator, learning more about the underlying beliefs about different cultures and the related learning practices helps me appreciate where everyone is coming from. I am able to then engage with them at a level they feel most comfortable.

I read somewhere that "there is no fixed understanding of self because it is socially and historically constituted and that it varies across time and cultures".  I find this statement to be very true for my own experience of trying to understand my self; this journey is always evolving.