learning theory

Have you ever heard a song play on your radio, ipod, record player, etc. that was just what you wanted or needed to hear? Its a magic moment, when synchronicity shows her face and you know once again you are not insignificant but part of a bigger picture or story that matters. I had that magic moment today…my iPhone “creative” playlist was going and the song “Heaven” by Paul Wright came on. My attention was drawn to the most memorable line of the song “we don’t need long hair forever, no, no…” Now, I’d been thinking the last couple days that it was time for a haircut – hence the magic moment when I heard my favorite line. Yes! It is time for a haircut, and I’ll even do it myself I’m so inspired (no joke, LOL)!

And yet, before I could get out the scissors, my latent curiosity took over and I decided it would be a good idea to look up the lyrics to this song. I mean, I’d made up a story in my head on why this line could be in a song about heaven but I wanted to see all the lyrics to get the real picture. So to google I went.

Lo and behold! There wasn’t anything about long hair, short hair, or any kind of hair in the lyrics of this song! Instead I read “we don’t belong here forever, no, no…” Huh. I listened to the song again and there it was, I could finally hear the original intent of the song and could also see how I had misconstrued the words because of how they were sung.

Now what? My incorrect view of the song had created an alternate universe for a wonderfully magic moment. For me, that still exists and I am going to cut my hair. And, at the same time I now see and hear the original intent of the song and now hold a new meaning for what this song is about. I’ve read the lyrics and have a new appreciation for the song writer. I also have spent some time thinking about heaven and what I think it will be like, what I hope it will be like. This, then has provided some more magic moments for me.

I’m reminded of how I, and I dare say others, have made meaning out of what we have seen and heard in our lives that has served us very well. These ways of seeing or interpreting life can be called mental models:

“Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Senge, (Doubleday: 1990) (from http://www.pimaregionalsupport.org/systems/glossary.htm)

These mental models can also be skewed or incorrect as illustrated by my own story. My hair example is a “light” version of some of the mental models I have had. Some more deeply ingrained ones have been much more challenging to not only define but to examine and/or change. I’ll save these for some later posts.

For now, I hope you enjoyed the story and you’ve had a chance to think about a few of your own ways of seeing the world that have provided humor and laughter in your life. This story today had me cracking up enough to inspire me to write this blog post. 🙂

For you curious types here are the lyrics for Paul Wright’s song “Heaven”:

Right around the corner
I want to know what it’s like to be in heaven
Looking back on my life having answers to my questions
Cuz we don’t belong here forever
No no we don’t belong here

And we’ll be dancing, singing, bringing our praise
By lifting our voices to Jesus
There’ll be no more crying, lying or dying when you and I are in heaven
I want to know what it’s like to live forever
Embraced by the light of knowing you better Lord
Cuz we don’t belong here forever no no we don’t belong here
We we we gonna be dancing, singing,
Lifting our voices to Jesus
Take me home
I want to go home
I want to be in heaven just singing and dancing and praising and living forever
© 2005 Gotee Records

I’m off to go cut my hair…wish me luck!

Update (2.5 hrs later): Mission accomplished!


Beliefs do not need to be encoded in words

Art, music and dance are alternative languages

Intuition, imagination and dreams are other ways of making meaning

Inspiration, empathy and transcendence are central to self-knowledge and to drawing attention to the affective quality and poetry of human experience

These words from Mezirow’s book “Learning as Transformation” (pp. 5-6) caught my attention! Especially to my own struggles to put my thoughts and intuition into words. Art, music, dance…what if I were to really utilize these communication methods (which I enjoy) to bring my message to the world.

To really embrace my gifts, abilities, talents as ways to creatively communicate and ENJOY life…this is the true gift. The living of myself. It is such a basic premise and yet totally flys in the face of what I have presumed the acceptable way to “be” to be successful, accepted…

This journey of learning is in huge part a learning of who I am and being not only at home with myself, but helping others be at home as well.

Scientific Inquiry: rigorous investigation to discover new information

Artistic Inquiry: uses intuition and analysis of experience to discover new information

The artistic stream lends itself beautifully to the coaching realm. Having clients connect with and acknowledge their intuition and experience helps them become more fully present to their current reality. It is key in discovering and defining what they want for their future. And, interestingly enough, it is a great tool to close the gap between the two.

In my view, the scientific stream provides the underlying theory that supports the artistic stream and gives it definition and depth. Although the scientific stream does not have to be known for artistic inquiry to work, for those of us who need the “particle” level of things to make sense, scientific inquiry provides that for us.

Which way of learning and inquiry do you prefer? Do you need both for life and learning to make sense?

Inquiry Streams: Per M.S. Knowles et al’s article: An Andragogical Theory of Adult Learning. In The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. Amsterdam; Boston: Elsevier. pp. 61-72