21st Century Learning's hypotheses and propositions

The best way to describe and explain what TLO's Front-End/Back-End learning program is all about is to share with you its basic hypotheses and key propositions .

There are six key hypotheses. We don't have indisputable scientific evidence that proves these ideas are infallible. But a wide range of scientific research, our own experience, and the experience of those who are our long-term Thought Partners all support the confidence we have in the utility of these basic hypotheses. Our experience with these hypotheses has helped us create four experiential learning propositions. These propositions are our best ideas about the most successful ways we can operationalize what we know when we’re working with our Thought Partners in support of their particular learning journeys.

Accordingly, just below, we describe our six Front-End/Back-End hypotheses and our four operational propositions. This combination should help you understand how we think about learning, while leaving you free to decide whether what we're saying is worth your consideration. Ultimately what we're after here is a transformation learning program that make sense to you.

TLO's Basic experiential learning hypotheses

Here are the six hypotheses that are the conceptual foundation for TLO's Front-End/Back-End Learning Programs: 

  • Every moment of every day, our physical senses are receiving ten million bits of data per second, while, in response, our minds are only perceiving 90 bits per second. In other words, our minds are only processing .000009% of the information that our brains are receiving. For us, this suggests there is more "reality" in the "real world" than we're ever actually aware of.

  • Two centuries of scientific research demonstrates unequivocally that what's standing between the 10,000,000 bits of data our senses receive every second and the 90 bits of information our brains process every second is what cognitive scientists, psychiatrists, and psychologist know as our “unconscious mind.”

  • Again, two centuries of scientific research demonstrates that our unconscious brains and minds are created out of genetic and biological givens (e.g., sex, race, ethnicity), our genetic predispositions (e.g., handedness, introversion vs. extroversion, etc.), our cognitive biases (e.g., certainty), our worldviews and mindsets, and the psychological stances we tend to take vis a vis others and the world.

  • Given all this, it seems like the reality we see is constructed. No doubt the physical world we see outside of us is real, but our personal life experiences are something quite different, something that we personally create and interpret. End of the day, we are reality construing, meaning making organisms.

  • Inevitably, “mismatches” arise between the concrete, very real world that we find ourselves living in and interacting with on one hand and, on the other hand, the “realities” that our minds and brains create and construct for us to “see.” The difference between these two types of "reality" are the mismatches that determine the quality of our lives.

  • For most of us, we are strongly predisposed towards defending the realities we’re brought up with and “taught” to see as truth and reality. As a matter of course, we staunchly defend our own and our family's ‘points of view.’

Collectively, these six hypotheses suggest why the earliest developmental task for anyone interested in serious learning is figuring out how to consciously notice and then effectively deal those moments in life where there are important mismatches between the experiences the world is bringing to their doorstep and the results they are expecting. 

TLO's Key expreiential learning Propositions

Here are the four learning propositions that orient and drive TLO's Front-End/Back-End Learning Programs: 

  • Real world learning grows out of, and is always based on, each individual's personal experience.

  • Real world learning that examines our own unique personal experiences requires four distinctly different learning skills:

    • The ability to attend to your immediate sensory experiences;

    • The ability to reflect on important life experiences;

    • The ability to recognize and describe your own behavioral patterns;

    • The ability to identify patterns that frequently produce unsatisfactory consequences and, from this, find ways to doing something different.

  • Because of our own personal genetic markers, environmental influences, and important life events, each of us, as we grown into mature adults, develops different "learning styles." These learning styles, over time, become routinized and patterned ways of perceiving information and initiating action that mark our unique approach to learning. Each of these routinized learning styles has its own benefits and costs.

  • Typically, we're more or less unaware of our own learning preferences and styles. Almost all of our learning takes place unconsciously. Because of this, our experiential learning efforts tend to be slow, randomly episodic, and unreliable.

Together these six hypotheses and their four operational propositions explain why knowing something about your learning preferences and styles is essential. Knowing even a little bit about how you really learn, especially what your personal preferences and biases are can tell you which of the four learning skills outlined above are the ones that you tend to lead with when you’re trying to initiate your own learning efforts. This kind of knowledge can also tell you what skills you will almost inevitable ignore or skip over during your learning efforts. Together, these hypotheses and propositions are what we bring to bear when designing unique Front-End/Back-End learning programs for our Learning Partners.