The Future of Learning

The Academy for the Love of Learning is pleased to announce a new series The Future of Learning Dialogues. The series supports us all in reconnecting to the natural love of learning through conversations with exemplars of the Learning Spirit in Action – including artists, writers, members of indigenous communities, contemplatives, activists, scientists and kids. We are seriously looking for intelligent life in the universe!

The inaugural Future of Learning Dialogue will take place on October 15th, 2019 at 7pm. The theme of the 2019 Dialogue is “learning in community” and features Gloria Steinem in conversation with Aaron Stern. Join us in communal reflection and conversation at the Academy or live online via Livestream. Learn more about how to join us here

In a conversation with Aaron Stern, we discussed the learning spirit, communal learning and how The Future of Learning reimagines learning as a practice in becoming better humans. 


New ways of learning and engaging with the world around us – not entirely new but ways that have been forgotten –  are emerging in conversations, inquiries, and discoveries. Learning is in fact an orientation towards the world and the practice of reflecting on experiences that’s innate to all humans. At the heart of learning is the learning spirit, an energy that inspires us into inquiry, reflection, and critical thinking. What is the learning spirit? 

Learning Spirit 

The learning spirit is our sense of arising imagination, inspiration, and purpose that emerges from moments of deep thought, reflection, and inquiry – and sometimes, simply spontaneously, as if out of nowhere! We all have unique interior lives that inform how we understand and engage with the world around us. The learning spirit is motivated by our internal guidance systems and moves us to connect with that which is ours to know — and to seek and find meaning — within our ourselves, each other, our communities, and the larger world.  It is an expression of our sovereignty and personal truth. And shared, deeper truth as well. Learning, then, can happen anywhere and at any time and becomes more intentional when we are aware of our thoughts and feelings and body sensations and engage with our actions – while in the midst of them — what at the Academy we call engaged awareness in action. We learn from living and being. Human experience sits at the core of learning. And as John Dewey told us in the simplest terms — “experience + reflection = learning”. Of course in our current understanding and practices at the Academy for the Love of Learning, ‘reflection’ is further defined to be a deep process that draws upon the power of awareness, not only of our thoughts, but also of our feelings, sensations, insights, intuitions, etc. And, it is something we do together — learning in community – leading to shared understanding and meaning and even personal and collective transformation.  

Communal Learning

“We need each other to shape and be shaped by each other.  It’s about what happens by opening and connecting to another and to the impact of our meetings. We learn from each other constantly. ALL learning happens in relationship.” Aaron Stern 

When we connect with our friends, family, community, even digital communities, we teach each other how to exist and live in the world together. Learning happens when we come to know ourselves as human beings and bring this knowledge into our interactions with the people around us. Schools and existing models of institutionalized education rarely present opportunities for communal learning despite structurally seeming like a community space – a space where students share classrooms and lessons together. Instead, schools and their function are often designed with political economic goals in mind while neglecting to address deeper societal questions and lessons. On a macro-level, schools educate us in how to participate in society and shape world views on a collective scale. The magnitude of their influence, however, also reveal schools as possible starting points for collective transformation and community reimagining. Wherever there is community, learning can transpire. 

Whether within the walls of institutionalized education such as our schools – or in what I like to call ‘school outside of school’ settings such as in our nuclear families, extended families, neighborhoods, houses of our friends – wherever we happen to find ourselves – we often find ourselves learning in community. In other words, the Learning Spirit is at work. And we nurture it — the food we choose to offer ourselves — becomes an opportunity for the expression of intention and the practice of awareness.  

If schools and other institutions became a communal learning model, how would our everyday interactions and impressions of each other and society transform? How could communal approaches to learning, problem sharing and solving invite us to connect with our inner guidance, innate purpose, and positively impact emerging new ways of being and living? The Future of Learning Dialogues will help us answer these questions by bringing us back to the origins of learning: engaging the learning spirit in community.

The Future of Learning Dialogues

“The Future of Learning Dialogues are intended to focus attention on the Learning Spirit as distinct from the topic of Education. Institutionalized education and our ongoing attempts at its reform capture our attention while the powerful Learning Spirit within each of us gets lost in the shuffle and may be at risk. This series is dedicated to the reanimation of the Learning Spirit in us all in hopes that we will see robust images of learning at work in our lives. It is dedicated to the understanding that learning itself, if truly supported, can lead us through our lives toward greater degrees of freedom, purpose, meaning and mutual and planetary wellbeing. Imagine…if all Education was designed to support the Spirit of Learning in us all!” Aaron Stern

The Future of Learning Dialogue Series is the Academy’s bold new initiative meant to bring inspiring images of wellbeing and possibility during these challenging times. Dialogues will prompt audiences to “wake up” and explore how we can communally learn to become better humans, practice agency and speaking our truth – speaking truth to power – while challenging existing systems and structures. 

Our inaugural event centers around the theme Learning in Community and features beloved writer, political activist, and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem in conversation with Academy Founder and President, Aaron Stern. Gloria, informed by a long-standing history of clear seeing, wise thought and activism, will enter the dialogue with Aaron, a leader who has spent a lifetime exploring and sharing learning as an ever-deepening path for connecting to our selves, each other and the larger world. The dialogue theme they have chosen is Learning in Community. They enter the dialogue asking: How do we deepen our pathways to intimacy and understanding, so that we can learn together in the ways that we have forgotten?

Inspired by wisdom and truth, Aaron and Gloria will guide The Future of Learning Dialogue: Learning in Community conversation through a reclaiming of learning as a practice that connects human beings with their sense of self, agency, and sovereignty. Perhaps then we can truly learn our way to becoming better at being human beings.

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