of Transformative Learning
Essays on Theory and Praxis
Mary Ann O'Connor
"if we are to prevent global disaster, we need a totally
different way of educating our children. The essays in this book
take us an important part of the way toward the transformation we
--Rabbi Michael Lerner Editor,
TIKKUN Magazine and author,
Spirit Matters: Global Healing
and the Wisdom of the Soul
© 2003 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd
New York, NY 10010
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Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift
in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift
of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of
being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves
and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with
the natural world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking
structures of class, race and gender; our body awarenesses; our visions
of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of possibilities
for social justice and peace and personal joy. The editors of this collection
make several challenges to the existing field of transformative learningthe
first is to theoreticians, who have attempted to describe the nature
of transformative learning without regard to the content of transformative
learning. The editors argue that transformative learning theory cannot
be constructed in a content-neutral or context-free way. Their second
challenge, which assumes the importance of content for transformative
learning, is to educators as practitioners. The editors argue that transformative
learning requires new educational practices consistent with the content.
Arts-based research and arts-based teaching/learning practices are one
example of such new educational practices. Education for the soul, or
spiritual practices such as meditation or modified martial arts or indigenous
peoples forms of teaching/learning, is another example. Each article
in the collection presents a possible model of these new practices.
"Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning offers
a new vision of global community and new strategies for political struggle.
It is a book that does not limit social transformation to the narrow
confines of the classroom, but locates learning in the larger arena
of mind and spirit. The authors put praxis into the service of rebuilding
a world devastated by global capitalism; it is a project that confirms
how decolonizing pathways to the human heart can be instrumental in
the larger anticapitalist struggle ahead. "
McLaren, Graduate School of Education and
Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
rates of social change, the movements of the world's people, industrialization,
globalization, and militarization continue to escalate at an ever-accelerating
pace. Educators face an unprecedented task. They must support people to
become highly creative, collaborative, problem solvers, and critical thinkers.
They must cultivate people's capacities to see the world from profoundly
different perspectives. They must nousish people's capacities for connection
and caring in a fragmented and divisive world. The authors of the essays
in this volume have been wrestling with all of these questions. They push
our thinking forward. Nothing is more important."
Field Belenky, co-author of
Women's Ways of Knowing and A Tradition That Has No Name
is truly a unique book. It challenges us to transform ourselves and our
planet by being aware of the creative cosmic power that flows through
ourselves and the universe we inhabit. Too often, alas, we abuse this
power. These authors ask us to look deeply into our souls through 'others''
piercing eyes - those who represent our spectrum of humanity from activists
to spiritualists. Such a vision will transform all who read these essays."
E. Doll, Jr., Vira Franklin and J. R. Eagles
Professor of Curriculum, Louisiana State University
Introduction; E.O'Sullivan, A.Morrell & M.A.O'Connor
Towards Transformative Learning: Ecological Perspectives for Adult Education;
The Labyrinth: Site and Symbol of Transformation; V.Compton
The Right to a New Utopia: Adult Learning and the Changing World of Work
in an Era of Global Capitalism; B.Hall
The Culture of Peace; A.Goodman
Situating Spirituality in the Agenda for Transformative Learning' G.J.Sefa
Transforming Research: Possibilities for Art-Informed Research?; J.G.Knowles
What is Curriculum Anyway?; M.Maxwell
Transformative Learning and the Tao of History: Spirituality in the Postindustrial
Learning From a Spiritual Perspective; J.Miller
Traces of the Forgotten: Photographic Ambiguity and Critical Histories;
Exploring Healing and the Body Through Chinese Medicine: Notes on Pedagogy
and Embodiment; R.Ng
The Integrative Power of Fiction as Research: New Paradigms for Scholarship
in Transformative Learning; M.A.O'Connor
Transforming the Ecology of Violence; E.O'Neill & E.O'Sullivan
The Transformative Power of Creative Dissent: The Raging Grannies Legacy;
Bringing Latin American Traditions of Transformative Learning to the North;
Journey of Our Spirits: Challenges for Adult Indigenous Learners; R.Shilling
The Signature of the Whole: Radical Interconnectedness in Education; D.Selby
African Women, the Land, the Universe and Creation: A Spiritual Connection;
EDMUND V. O'SULLIVAN is the Director of the Transformative Learning Centre,
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, at the University of Toronto.
AMISH MORRELL is a
doctoral candidate, OISE, University of Toronto.
MARY ANN O'CONNOR
is a doctoral candidate, OISE, University of Toronto.