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Ashley Cooper
Thomas Arthur 
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Learning Circles

Meaningful Conversations and Experiential Learning

One day a nine year old girl shared with me an idea she had for making the world a more peaceful place. “People should talk about compassion more. I could just get together with my friends and ask them to share with anyone that they know. It would soon spread just like germs. I would ask them how they think about compassion and help to inspire them if they are having trouble.” She wanted to

Setting aside time and space to be in learning and extending an invitation to others can be a tremendous gift both to oneself and to the others. Often this effort is all that is needed for  genuine sharing, learning, connecting and growing to unfold. There is a wisdom that emerges in a circle of people that is unique to the wisdom that lies within an individual. Circles can be hosted with any number of people in many different contexts. What ideas do you have?

experiment with this idea and so I helped her gather a group of her peers, creating a small learning circle that became a planning team. The four of us met and discussed the issues they cared about, brainstormed ideas, and created a plan to host a larger conversation with their entire third grade class. Time and space was set aside for students to be in meaningful conversation, sharing their ideas about how they could work together to make a difference and help change the things they cared about changing. The speech above was read during the opening of this Open Space gathering whose theme was “Together We Can Make it Better.”

Past Learning Circle Themes:

  1. Social and Emotional Well-being for Children and Adults

  2. Deepening Connections with Yourself and Your Child (or Student)

  3. Reflective Communication and Emotion Coaching

  4. Self-care

  5. Positive Discipline

  6. Inviting Cooperation

  7. Compassion Circles

  8. Dreaming Together What’s Possible

Click here for an example of a Workshop Series hosted for parents

“It was fascinating for me to see that I need not shy away from groups necessarily. I've always seen myself as someone who dislikes groups and cringes around standard expressions of sentimentality. Groups can still work for me and that was interesting for me to learn. And finally for whatever reason, during each and every session I felt myself flooded with appreciation and love and acceptance for my kids. As they are! That was a lovely side benefit and one that motivated me to try to get back to that level of acceptance even in the midst of everyday frustrations.”

                                              ~ Parenting Group participant and mother of 3

I host learning circles for the purpose of supporting the social and emotional well-being of children and adults and the systems that shape their lives, with particular emphasis on parents and educators. Learning circles are opportunities for groups to come together for a shared purpose, taking time and finding creative ways to imagine, inquire, experiment, listen, learn, and recognize what’s needed to create the change and opportunities that are desired.  Participants are able to share their experiences, learn from one another, engage in hands-on activities and deepen their connections to themselves, each other and the world around them.

What ideas do you have that you would like to explore with others?

What questions do you hold? Would you like to be involved in a learning circle? What do you want to learn? With whom would you like to learn?

Learning Circles in Action

Inviting Learning

Woven Essence