Monday, February 1, 2021

Learning Circles

I spent some months in lockdown working on a learning circle with a friend. I really love this model, and I think of it as something John Holt would have approved of if he could have seen what possibilities tech would open up for us in the 21st century.

My friend Jordan designed classes on writing almost from scratch; there’s plenty of linked material, but the structure and flow are all original. I love this, in part because it’s more of a guarantee that the work will remain free. (A number of places that used to offer free massive open online courses have started to charge for content.) I’m not going to belabor the obvious, but that’s hugely important for people, especially when so many are out of work, or their work is a “gig” that offers no guarantees of benefits or even continued employment.

The learning circle we worked on is on self-care, and as long as no monkey wrenches get thrown at us in the next few months, we’ll be piloting the course in May. (Yes, of course on Zoom.) I’m really excited about this, in part because I had a lot of fun researching, writing, and editing with my friend, and in part because it’s a really important topic. We live in a culture that does not prioritize taking care of ourselves; I’ll leave it to you to decide how long that’s been the case. It’s one thing to not always give ourselves the kind of food we need or as much exercise as we’ve been advised to take, but we don’t even get the amount of sleep we’re supposed to. An increasing number of us not only live with toxic levels of stress, we’re made to feel as if we should take on more. That’s bs, and again, I’ll leave it to you to determine when that started, and for whom.

It’s a cultural problem, but the only way I know how to change a culture is to start with people. I can’t promise that your job will get less toxic once you start thinking about self-care, but I can tell you that once you start thinking about the importance of your own needs, you’ve got a better chance of using the magic word “no” more often.

That’s the first course, and I’m excited. And that’s just the first in the list I have planned. I’ll be working on one – probably around the summer, but maybe the fall – on climate change and soil/agriculture, one on financial literacy, and maybe ones for media literacy and creativity (gulp). We’ll see, but expect to see a bunch from me in 2022.

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