By Lynn E. Foster

When learning or teaching, can you recall that exact moment when you really understand a new concept, or in someone else, you almost can see the lightbulb flash above a learners’ head?  Some may call it being woke, especially when it comes to social issues that shift your perspective about how you see the world.  The perspective from which one views the world, or Weltanschauung in German language, is formed by all the collective experiences one has in their life.  It is your traditions, culture, holidays, friends, family, community, country, social circles, systems of government and oneself within that perspective over time that forms your weltanschauung.  Transformational learning shifts ones’ weltanschauung.

Transformational Learning Theory is a learning theory developed by John Mezirow in1978.  Transformational learning theory includes learning that changes the way an individual sees the world and themselves.  It is learning that shifts meaning perspectives, habits of mind, frames of reference or weltanschauung.  Transformational learning is foundational to remediate issues of equality, compassion, ethics, racism, justice and reconciliation.   Transformational learning is a psychosocial concept that is contingent on a personal shift of understanding oneself and ones’ place in the world.  Although scholars have gained clarity about what transformational learning does to the individual’s self-efficacy and growth, there is a gap in understanding how to create opportunities of transformational learning. There has been some general understanding of what elements of teaching create opportunities for transformational learning to occur. 

It is suggested that there are three factors that cause transformational learning; the first is problem-based learning that acts as a catalyst of transformation; the second is story-formed learning, due to the fact that compelling stories often shift one’s perspective or schema and third there must be a connection for the learner to an external source or participation in a cause that is important.  Transformative education focuses on whole personhood of the student, while exploring issues of social justice, like oppression, power and privilege. Transformational learning framework is grounded in practices of social justice in education.

As an educator or learner, how do you identify your weltanschauung?  Are there times when you remember having a transformation learning experience that shifted your weltanschauung?  What was the catalyst?  What can you do as an educator to provide opportunities for your students to experience transformational learning?  

Enjoy your transformations, they are benchmarks of your own learning and growth. ~ LEF


 DeSapio, J. (2017). Transformational learning: A literature review and call forward. Journal of Transformative Learning, 4(2), 56-63. Retrieved from http://cucproxy.cuchicago.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/transformational-learning-literature-review-call/docview/2193150225/se-2?accountid=27800

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning.  San Francisco, Ca. Jossey-Bass.


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