In some of my previous posts, I experiment with how to represent complex information through life tracing and even analyzing my own name. The reason I am fascinated by these exercises is that our lives are inherently complex systems interacting with other complex systems that exist within ever-larger complex systems. And yet…we can make sense of it…or at least the part of it that we can consciously comprehend. The point is this: we can not only make sense of our lives, but also craft them. The question becomes: to what end?
Grappling with this question, I came up with a framework that is currently helping me fully appreciate who it is that we are as people and learners. I began by identifying the activities that I have readily observed in traditional education: teachers curate content, teachers create courses, and students consume whatever the teachers create. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the one I decided to focus on because of the curation-creation-consumption cycle that emerges. In this context, curation involves experiences and occurs across a spectrum of time, creation involves environments and occurs across a spectrum formality, and consumption involves expressions and occurs across a spectrum of depth. This allowed me to draw the diagram below:
The intersection of the axes immediately fascinated me. Logically, it represents the origin of the axes as well as the midpoint between the ends of each axis. Between the past and the future, I found the present moment. Between the structured and unstructured environments, I found an emergent one. Between the body and the spirit, I found a person in human form. At the origin of it all, therefore, I discovered a presently emergent person.
So what does this mean? There are two trends that I really appreciate. First, learning is not a one-dimensional measure. Rather, learning can be lifelong (through curated experiences), lifewide (through created environments), and lifedeep (through consumed expressions). Second, we must as learners logically also be multi-dimensional. Because, in order to interact with and absorb this learning, our multi-dimensionality must at least match (if not exceed) that of the learning. This is why each of us is a presently emergent person – integrating insights and experiences to discover and reveal ourselves anew after every moment.
It turns out that I am not the first one to come up with this terminology of the lifelong, lifewide, and lifedeep learning, as the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center has arrived at the exact same model. And while the definitions of the individual terms might not 100% match, their intentions are similar if not the same.
The implication that I draw from this whole exercise is but one: that we must fully acknowledge and cultivate our multi-dimensionality as learners! Although multi-dimensional, we can allow ourselves to be limited to spaces with lesser dimensionality. Think about this: what if certain educators actually compress otherwise multi-dimensional learners into one-dimensional thinkers? How much are they missing out on? How difficult might it be for them to then break out into the entirety of who they are and what they can learn? Whether or not the axes are correct, it is the recognition of the multi-dimensionality that is important to me.
All of a sudden, there is no need to leave emotions or extracurricular activities or romantic relationships at the door when we enter a learning environment. All of a sudden, we can begin to assert and guard our reality as multi-dimensional learners, consciously intending to learn in a multi-dimensional manner. This is an identity as a learner – and human being – that I am going to experiment with now for the foreseeable future, and I cannot wait to see what person will emerge in a future present moment.