Chapter 6

Transformational Learning

This chapter opens up with Geri’s story as an example of transformational learning in a person’s life. It is about change, dramatic and pivotal change to how we see ourselves and the world around us. The difference between informational learning and transformational learning is that informational targets cognitive while transformational targets inner meaning and reflection.

The Lenses of Transformational Learning

Holistic points of views of transformational learning can be done through what is known in methodology as lenses or scopes. It limits the perspective of the student or researcher to reflect upon chunks information and then the entire picture.

  1. Taylor (2005) – presents seven lenses divided into two groups brought to us by various theorist on p 131:
    1. Individual group: psycho-critical, psycho-developmental, and psycho-analytical.
    2. Sociocultural group: social-emancipatory, cultural/spiritual, race-centric and planetary approaches.

Individual group perspectives:

Meziow’s psycho-critical approach (2000) – The summary is how adults make sense of their life experience. To him learning is the process of using prior knowledge and interpretation of the meaning of one’s own experience in order to guide future action. There are three types to which he classifies this: frame of reference, points of view, and habits of mind.

  1. A habit of mind – a set of assumptions, very broad, generalized, it is like a filter for interpretation towards the meaning of that particular experience. These tend to stable.
    1. Moral, ethical, philosophical, and some others mentioned on p. 132
  2. Point of view – this is made of meaning schemes like attitudes, beliefs, judgments and feelings. It’s a framework of opinions that you tend to flock towards. These can change.

Transformative learning occurs when there is a transformation (Rom. 12) in one of more of our beliefs or attitudes, even our entire perspective. Not all learning is transformative. Mere experience is not enough to learn in his theory. He state one must have an experience, reflect on that experience, analyze and only then can there be a transformation from your previous assumption. This assumption can be highly subjective to change.

There are four main concepts of the transformative learning process

  1. Experience
  2. Critical reflection
  3. Reflective discourse
  4. Action

This can be seen in the church when people are constantly looking for an experience with God. This experience in turn can provoke reflection which in the end can change their mind set. But sometimes the compulsion to acquire an experience can trump the actual reflection making it more like a spur of the moment experience but not meaningful or fruitful. Here is where people can become critical of services when what takes place was not in their expectations. Church becomes a show to them.

Mezirow explained

Reflective discourse is described as a “dialogue devoted to searching for a common understanding and assessment of the justification of an interpretation or belief”. (p. 134) Mezirow didn’t believe that a discourse was a war or debate but more an effort to find the point of agreement or to build a new and better understanding of the concept within question. A discourse can happen in a one-to-one relationship, in groups, and in formal education.

Action is the final piece of the process in which a person can take immediate or delayed action towards the reasoning behind the reaffirmation of an existing pattern or thought. In other words, when we first teach the Word to someone that has never heard it before, their reaction can be very different to one that has heard biblical studies all their life.

Please refer to Karen’s story on p 135

Daloz & Boyd’s Perspectives and Approaches

While Mezirow sees TL as more a rational journey, Daloz & Boyd view it as more holistic and intuitive (1998)

  1. It is lifelong personal development with a facilitator as a mentor or guide.
  2. People seek higher education to help make sense of their lives because they have lost purpose
  3. Education is a transformational journey
  4. “The priority of a guide is to listen to the dreams of the pilgrims” p 138
    1. Three important aspects of this are to

i.      Support

ii.      Challenge students

iii.      Provide vision

It is clear that Daloz and Boyd used parables or stories to jumpstart critical thinking and complex reasoning. Dive deep, think and reflect more but using common stories, just like Jesus did.

Freire’s Social Emancipatory Philosophy

His theory birthed in Brazil based on common farmers in the mid-twentieth century, it emerges from a context of poverty, illiteracy, and oppression in the middle of social change.

  1. Conscientization is personal empowerment and social transformation – can’t be separated one from another. The learner becomes aware of oppressing forces and with resistance can become a part of social change. The ultimate goal of education is liberation or “the action of people to transform their environment”.
  2. Banking education – known for the teacher depositing knowledge into the passive students to where the final teacher is the authority in the classroom. This type resists dialogue, students are oppressed and live in a “cultural silence”
  3. Problem posing education – liberates the students to interact in the learning process. Teachers and students are co-investigators and co-learners. Dialogue is indispensable.

Key Concepts in Transformational Learning

  1. Experience –divided into dimensions p.144
  2. Critical Reflection – effective learning follows effective reflection on what happened p.145
    1. Content reflection
    2. Process reflection
    3. Premise reflection
  3. Development – The ability to think critically when faced with a challenge, adversity or dilemma p.147

Trends in Transformational Learning Literature

There are more scholars taking into consideration the emotional and spiritual pieces in the learning process. Some are also now including technology and its discoveries. For example on p 157 it states that online learners valued collaborative learning but wanted to be graded as individuals as well. Some learners didn’t feel connected to other peers. This resulted in the integration of social networking and profile on LMS such as Moodle where you can click on a person’s picture within a forum and find out all about them. You can then connect with them on FB, Twitter, Google+ and other social networking sites. The workplace is also being considered since that is where you see learning groups within an organization. Through dialogue and reflection a team can solve a problem for the company.


Within this chapter we viewed many theories of transformational learning. Obviously, all of these are seen in lenses from within a secular realm and not from a Christian’s perspective. For this reason, we are to do some critical thinking after reading chapter 6 and dissect it a bit more in the controversial areas and how those theories can affect our church body. Project 1 is based on how to counteract some theories the world may have and how without to be able to explain without offending why some are wrong according to scriptures.

Taking it to the Word

Topics to review and research on

Homophobic: New name tag for true Christ followers

Embarrassing Cultural Spirituality: How much is too much?

Sociocultural change in today’s church body: Pros & Cons

Do you truly need to go through an experience to learn?

Romans 12 & Transformational Learning

Conscientization and the Church in America

Planetary View of Transformational Learning in Christianity

You can use the internet, but not Wikipedia. Please paraphrase to not quote exactly from your source. Only exception to quoting exact words is when you are citing Scripture. Cite from the King James Version for researching purposes only. You can use any other version for your personal use in class. Three to five references, not including the Bible. That one should always appear in your references. Do this research for your future benefit if you will be thinking on becoming a minister of the Gospel.