Dialogue Education and Love

“In the end, Dialogue Education is all about love”.

This statement deeply resonated in me when I heard it during the Global Learning Partners course Advanced Learning Design in Toronto with Jeanette Romkema this past November. A few days after the training, I realized that I had experienced the reality behind the above statement and started to wonder about the other participants’ experience.

[A group selfie taken by Toronto public course participants.]

Eight insights emerged from this email discussion with our group that offer a glimpse of what we believe is much deeper and broader:

  1. DE reconnects people with themselves and one another. DE allows people to be present to their truest selves in connection with others' true selves. Consequently, love can emerge because it requires connectedness and presence to oneself and others.
  2. DE values people and relationship. By putting the learners and their learning at the center, DE allows people to recharge emotionally and to feel valued, heard and understood. Visible symptoms of love—such as empathy, openness, gentleness, gladness, or inner and physical peace—quickly radiate from them and infect those around them. Other people can see these symptoms, feel them and be attracted to them. So, DE contributes to putting love back at the center of how people relate to each other.
  3. DE demands an inclusive dialogue. People are always properly welcomed and intentionally included in the process, even when they join the learning event after it has already started. They are actually “won” by an ascending vortex created by the dialogue that is already present in the room, and this includes them quickly into the learning process, dialogue and feeling of connectedness.
  4. DE enables true dialogue. Genuine dialogue is love per definition because dialogue allows what people have best to offer to be shared with others. People share and benefit from each other’s treasures/gifts, which is an act of giving and receiving love. To give the one’s best and to receive the best from others increases love, and creates connectedness and mutual enrichment.
  5. Love is activated by the learning process itself. People study efficiently what they need and love. The more they study what they love, the more they love it. So DE's sequencing reinforces the intensity of love and unites people around their love for the object of study. Love naturally grows when it is shared.  Furthermore, DE offers challenging learning tasks which require people to struggle together and on their own. This often mobilizes their love in creativity. This creates a unique learning experience and love can emerge. The learners’ love for the object of study strengthened by the uniqueness of the vital learning experience is then transferred to their relationship with one another and to those who can benefit from their work and study.
  6. DE's overall process is a catalyst of love. When time frame is large (for example, in a five-day learning event) people can trust, be safe and feel invested in the group learning experience. What DE intentionally encourages before, during and after the learning event also activates hope and diminishes the fear of being isolated.
  7. DE nurtures passion and focus. People remember deeply who and why they want to serve and work for/with. DE reconnects people to the core of their deepest "WHAT" which can be (surprisingly) connected to their life purpose. Passion-purpose-love are easily connected and nourish each other. Thus, one is connected, not only to a profession, but to one's meaning of life, one's calling, and one’s vocation. DE, by being a tool of vocational guidance, is one of the most precious gifts one can give and receive. So DE may be by nature a gift of love in and of itself because it serves the process of discernment of what humans are meant to be and do with respect to each one's singularity.
  8. DE gives back to people their capacity for love. Indeed, DE lifts up people from their daily life problems and (even) traumas. Some problems are overwhelming and some situations so complex that one’s capacity for love is neutralized. DE is powerful enough to lift people higher than their current problems and offers them new perspectives. DE offers an escape from a sense of inner darkness often produced by pain, helplessness, or hopelessness and refreshes people. People can come back renewed, sometimes restored, always newly empowered.

Let me leave you with this final thought from the poem The Winter of Listening by David Whyte:

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

An invitation:

Jeanette Romkema and I continue to discuss the topic of DE and love, and are both excited and humbled by what we are learning. As we journey further we plan to continue to share thoughts, questions, discoveries and resources on the GLP blog, Facebook, and the website. To continue this important work, we would love to hear from you:

  • What comes to mind when you reflect on the connection between Dialogue Education and love?
  • What is most challenging for about this?
  • How do your cultural background and practices inform or challenge this?


Frederic Defoy fred.defoy@gmail.com is an ICF certified coach, a consultant and a trainer practicing In France. He graduated from Wheaton College, IL, USA. His passion is to contribute to people’s potential for living out their vocation.

Jeanette Romkema jeanette@globallearningpartners.com is a Senior Partner and Core Consulting Team member with Global Learning Partners. 

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