Relational Learning at the Heart of SelfDesign

Though there are plenty of trends in education today, “relational learning” is here to stay. Relational learning is when learners and educators co-create learning experiences and engage in dialogue to learn from each other—fostering social and emotional growth for all. The blog post “Relational learning . . . .say what?” by AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organization) features a white paper by the Carnegie Institute detailing how young people need these types of educational opportunities. Amongst its recommendations is the call for students to have easily available mentors and for teachers to be trusted role models—both of which are features of SelfDesign.

AERO adds to Carnegie’s suggestions with even more qualities of SelfDesign. For example, AERO and SelfDesign similarly believe that schools should be “real” communities: places where learners share the responsibility of educating themselves and each other and where opportunities for co-operation and the exchange of ideas and energy are frequent and inspired. Learning aboutrelationships and inrelationship are at the heart of relational learning and SelfDesign. Everything we experience is shaped by the relationships that surround us. So it seems natural that our happiness and contribution to the world depend on our ability to learn and grow through these connections.

SelfDesign Mirrored in BC’s Education Plan

Personalized learning offers every child a place in our future. BC’s Education Plan is clear: students must be at the centre of their learning. The plan calls for families to be more involved in education; for greater flexibility in what, when, and how someone learns; and for learning that occurs outside of school (such as artistic or athletic pursuits) to count toward educational requirements. With an emphasis on problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity, BC’s Education Plan stresses above all that we must help kids learn how to learn.

SelfDesign’s approach embodies all of these qualities and is recognized by the Ministry of Education for doing so. It’s based on the idea that we are all natural learners with learning styles and interests that are as legitimate as each of us. Born from the roots of personalized learning, the core elements of SelfDesign have been evolving since the early 80s, allowing us to witness the rewards of this approach in decades of learners. In that time, we have also observed parents rediscovering what education can look like as they see the unique spirit of their child acknowledged and honoured. The province-wide dialogue emerging through the Ministry, nudging education in this direction, reaffirms our experiences and promises an exciting future.