Episode 110: Reflecting with Jane on the School of the 80’s
Dr. Jane Vella, Founder of Global Learning Partners, is loving what she calls “The School of the 80’s” – not the 1980’s… her 80’s. Jane shares how in the last decade she has discovered a new way of learning that is rooted in leisure, experience and vulnerability. Listen to how her thinking about her original teachings on Dialogue Education™ has expanded through these insights.
Read Jane’s full blog post here.
Theme music: ‘Pretty Face’ by Una Walkenhorst. You can hear more of Una’s music on her website!
Read transcripts for the episode below.
Hello, and welcome to Shift the Power: A Learning-Centered Podcast, where we talk about the revolutionary power of a learning-centered approach. Through this podcast we hope to inspire creative thinking and provide practical tools and techniques to deepen learning through dialogue. I’m your host, Meg Logue with Global Learning Partners, and today I’m joined again by our illustrious founder, Dr. Jane Vella. Welcome Jane. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us.
Thank you, Meg
So Jane, you’re going to be reading for us today, a blog that you wrote a few years back, and this bog for our listeners just so you know, is about some of the lessons that Jane has learned through as she puts it, the School of the Eighties. Now, without further ado, I’ll hand it onto you-Jane.
Yes. When I say School of the Eighties, I’m talking about not the 1980s, but in my eighties. I’m 89 now and this essay was written in 2017. I’m going to read the essay and I’ll probably put some extra words in as I go along. It’s short, but you know me, you can stop me from talking.
Meg (1m 26s):
We would never dare. [Laughs]
Jane (1m 29s):
So here’s the essay like as with the Zull material, I can say, this is the essay, and this is me now. [The essay] I have been in school in one way or the other on both sides of the desk for the past 80 years, God help me. That was me. I have never been in a school where my learning was so delightful, my appetite for it so voracious, my joy in it so deep, as this School of the Eighties. As I tried to understand why this is happening, I thought of three factors that go with my being 80 — today, 89 years old.
Jane (2m 17s):
I have exquisite leisure. I have a long experience to use as a base for new learning. And I have a new vulnerability. Look forward to this decade you younguns, you will be amazed. Let’s look at leisure. I remember when Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania published his paper, Education for Self-Reliance in 1967. The paper emphasized practicality, relevance, and immediacy.
Jane (2m 56s):
Teach them something they can use, Nyerere appealed to Tanzania educators. Margaret Rose, Sister Margaret Rose, the wise and saintly woman, who was the founder of Marion college, where I was teaching at the time, argued with her friend Julius, without enough leisure, the girls will not learn. Some 60 years later, 69 years later, I see that in my life learning and leisure are indeed partners.
Jane (3m 39s):
A parallel invitation from father Robert of St. Mark’s Episcopal church in Raleigh, North Carolina is put silence in. I like that phrase. Put silence in. Robert does that himself in the liturgy before his sermon and in conversation, put silence in. Hmm. Silence in Dialogue? Yes. Experience. I look back on the experience of my life with awe, thanks, and praise.
Jane (4m 19s):
Every event, joyful, tragic comic sad has the grace of God in it. I can see that now and expect the next event to be so touched that new appreciation of my experience makes it a useful base for a new learning. The learning needs and resources assessment, and the first of the four model for design learning tasks that comes from Kolbe. And we call it the four A’s, anchoring an inductive work, number one. Moving from the particular context of the learner to the general new skill, knowledge, or attitude being taught, both serve the use of past experience Vulnerability.
Jane (5m 8s):
At this point in my life, I walk slowly. I tell friends don’t walk behind me. I’m may just slip into reverse. I need help with some basic tasks around the house. I forget stuff. I am vulnerable. So I have to ask for help. And that has evoked a new Jane. I like her. I respect my vulnerability as an exquisite gift, which shows a human needy old lady who trusts friends to respond. And they do, Oh my, they do somehow this relates to my capacity for learning.
Jane (5m 58s):
I’m not sure how, but it does. I see perspectives that are different from mine, with new empathy and awareness that I might just need such a new perspective at this point in my life. Come and have a leasurly cup of tea on the back porch, with the vulnerable old lady who has a store of stories for you.
Meg (6m 28s):
Thank you, Jane you know, when I, when I read this blog, I have always imagined it in your voice, but it’s definitely something special to hear you read it out loud. So.
Jane (6m 39s):
It is isn’t it? Yes. Yes. Very interesting.
Meg (6m 42s):
It’s such a beautiful reflection on what life can teach us.
Jane (6m 48s):
Meg (6m 48s):
Now we originally wrote this essay for GLP back in 2017.
Jane (6m 52s):
Meg (6m 52s):
And as you said, you’ve got a few more years in the school of the eighties under your belt and your now that you’ve got the school of the nineties on your horizon. So I wonder if you might tell us a story if you’ve had more time to reflect on this, can you think of a moment in the last few years or, or even from your earlier experience that has underscored for you, the importance of leisure, experience, and vulnerability in learning?
Jane (7m 27s):
Well, it’s fascinating because there’s a qualitative difference in the learning I’m doing now. I will open a book from one of my favorite authors and I can spend a day on a page, six hours. I come out on the back porch on this beautiful North Carolina summertime at six in the morning. Have my coffee and breakfast out there and then start reading, and I don’t come in until noon gets a little hot out there. I decide, come in and cool off a bit, but I’ve never done that before.
Jane (8m 7s):
I want people to know about leisure. And as Robert says, put silence in. I wonder about putting leisure into courses. Imagine, and again, it’s that creativity, Meg, where you, you have to find a way to do that. That’s appropriate for this topic and for this group. But if leisure works, let’s use it.
Meg (8m 38s):
I wonder Jane is there a, an experience you can think of from your many years of teaching and facilitating Learning where you built leisure in successfully. Can you think of any, just off the top of your head?
Jane (8m 53s):
Well, I think that… Here’s something, I can recall putting leisure in intentionally in a, in a classroom. I think there was often though in the classes, a great deal of laughter because people were talking together about the meaning they gave from their experience to new content. And they were talking in safe small groups, and there was a lot of laughter and I think laughter could be a wonderful indicator.
Jane (9m 35s):
My dear friend, Paula, Paula Berardinelli, she says when she was teaching adults, serious adults, so are managers. You know what I measure, I measure the teeth. I can see that. She said, you know sometimes at the beginning of a session, no teeth. Everybody is very serious. They’ve come over from all over the world to learn more about that. And as they start doing Learning tasks in small groups and working on the content as colb, that explains to give it meaning- their meaning, guess what you hear laughter and isn’t laughter the preliminary to peace?
Meg (10m 28s):
It also brings to mind to me. Your, your Axiom joy is the measure.
Jane (10m 34s):
Joy is the measure. And then on the other side of that, axiom, there is an The exactly. No laughing, no Learning. And that absolutely in terms of the amygdala, which is the earlier Podcasts. But from whom, have I learned the most? I must tell you. I have learned the most, not with all due respect in the classroom, but from life and from friends and from people who I knew I could trust to tell the experiences that sometimes were very unpleasant, very hard to find meaning.
Jane (11m 19s):
And to be honest about the meaning, that was my meaning, not a textbook meaning. And then we start laughing together and you almost can see the Learning. You can see it, you can see it in the behavior. One of our axioms, I feel very strongly about this. The indicator of learning is behavior.
Meg (11m 43s):
I like that. I don’t think I’ve heard that axiom before.
Jane (11m 47s):
It’s very important. I say of course, I’m a bit of a pompous son of a gun, but I say, the only indicator of learning is behavior, which is why a learning task means you’re doing the content during the learning experience. And isn’t that funny? It, as you said earlier, it’s a way of living. If we can look on our own living, as I look now in my wonderful time of leisure and honoring my experience and the accepting and celebrating the vulnerability.
Jane (12m 34s):
Hello, I can see that my learning is, is amazing and it’s exciting. It’s, it’s, it’s comfortable. It’s fun and, and it does make me laugh.
Meg (12m 48s):
Wonderful. Well, Jane I, I wonder if you have any closing thoughts that you want to share with our listeners as, as you know, this is our last episode of our first season of Shift the Power, a learning-centered podcast and it’s, it’s so special that we get to close this season out with, with words from you. So I wonder if you have anything to share.
Jane (13m 11s):
Well, again, I want to say thank you for, for even conceiving this and to Peter and you for the title. I love the title, but thank you. And thanks to everyone. And with all due respect to all who are listening to this podcast, prepare for some really hard work. It’s hard work and it’s delightful and be prepared also for the amazing and emerging creativity you discover in yourself. Thank you.
Meg (13m 45s):
Thank you so much, Jane, for those, those closing words. I think our listeners will absolutely hold that with them. And now just to close our season out, of course we have not one but three open questions to send you away with. The first, how much leisure do you invite for your learners in your learning events? The second, how do you use what you know about your learners experience both past and present to shape engaging, challenging, and relevant learning tasks? And finally, how can you celebrate your own vulnerability at any age, so you gladly ask for help?
Meg (14m 26s):
We look forward to continuing the dialogue online.
Jane (14m 39s):
Thanks! Thanks to you all.
Meg (14m 41s):
Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Shift the Power, a learning-centered podcast. This podcast is produced by Global Learning Partners and Greg Tilton with music by Una Walkenhorst to out more about Global Learning Partners, whether it be our course offerings, consulting services, free resources or blogs, go to www.globallearningpartners.com. We invite you to sign up for our mailing list, subscribe to our podcast and find us on social media to continue the dialogue. If you enjoy the show, please consider leaving us a review on Apple podcasts or your preferred podcast player.