I have been around education for a long time but I don’t recall anyone directly addressing the importance of trust in learning, and especially in transformational learning.
I propose that trust is foundational to personal and community change.
I further propose that if trust is foundational to transformation, then any curriculum built with transformational learning in mind must intentionally include trust as an outcome for the learners and must build into the curriculum opportunities for the learners to express trust.
When I asked my daughter just now–because I was at a loss as to where to go with this idea–she added some good insight:
- Trust is related to the expectation of the outcome.
- Trust is related to the idea that the outcome will be better than the current situation.
- Trust is related to the idea that we are together for a common purpose, a purpose that will better the current situation.
We also discussed the idea that it is important that the leader do things that show that he or she is competent to move the group towards the transformation that is agreed on by the members.
We get a glimpse of some of these ideas in the account of Moses and Israel.
In Exodus chapter two, Moses is basically mocked as an incompetent leader. The lack of trust was spat at Moses when the Israelite replied, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us?” No trust, no transformation.
In Exodus chapter three, Moses expresses this sentiment again when he replies to God, “But behold, they will not believe me, or listen to my voice.” No trust, no transformation.
But we see that Moses did finally trust God, was transformed, did go. And as a result, “Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed.” Trust, transformation.
And we all know that Pharaoh needed a whole course, not just a workshop, to have a bit of transformation happen. We would not really say, though, that he was transformed–forced might be a better term. Trust never was his thing.
So I just suggest that included in the curriculum are opportunities to build trust among the group members, and with the facilitator/leader/teacher, and with the community.
One way to consider how to build trust is to take into account group dynamics such as those found at http://med.fsu.edu/uploads/files/FacultyDevelopment_GroupDevelopment.pdf . Note the characteristics of each stage.
One last note, the cultural dynamics involved in what it means to build trust mean that what works in one culture, or even within one class in the same culture, need to be considered before marching off to include trust-building activities into your curriculum.
My main point here is to ensure that such an important aspect of transformation is included in the discussion about it and hopefully included in the transformational learning that you create.
Do you trust me?