What’s a Wisdom Community?

I’ve had the pleasure of reading a book published recently: Culturally Inclusive Instructional Design; A Framework and Guide for Building Online Wisdom Communities by Charlotte Nirmalani Gunawardena, Casey Frechette and Ludmila Layne. This book details what a Wisdom Community is and how, by utilizing a framework of technology, communication, mentoring and supports, one could create their own community for the purpose of Transformative Learning! But, first: why do we wish our learning community be wise?

“Wisdom emerges from a rare mix of skills and values; humility, inclusiveness, kindness, generosity, and reflexiveness. Wise people listen before speaking and consider collective benefits before individual gains… Wise people engender transformative learning in themselves and others, while transformative learning increases wisdom.” Wisdom is the first element in the “WisCom Framework.” Next comes community (there’s a difference between a community and a group). Then: Communication, Technology, Distributed Co-Mentoring, Learner Support, Problem-Solving and the Collaborative Inquiry Cycle, and finally Transformative Learning.

When a community of people set out to transform their environment or achieve a goal, why shouldn’t they utilize a framework that serves not only as a vehicle toward success of the goal, but also contributes to self-discovery and learning? These two activities of serving toward a collaborative goal and also developing personal skills through learning are very helpful to each other. The authors of the book reference the sociocultural perspective of the Keresan Pueblo Communities of NM. This perspective relies on individuals to “give back” to the wellbeing of the whole community as a measure of wisdom. “Collective wisdom derives from each person’s contributions and shared experiences, and the social construction of knowledge leads to transformative learning.” In these times of political polarizations, may we all hope to benefit from collective wisdom and transformative learning.

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