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Start of Journey

Chaos Begins

Goodbye Technology





Learning Theories

Needs Assessment

Instructional Design


Self-Organized Learning


Masters of Education Portfolio of John Inman


Note: If you would like to review my philosophy before reading my reflection, please go to the bottom of the page.

My journey from not understanding my philosophy of learning and teaching to one of understanding spanned almost two years and five major rewrites. I started with a philosophy founded on work I had adopted and ended with a philosophy that was my own--a philosophy that now drives my work and provides me with a framework that helps me design and deliver my interventions. Like a mission statement, my philosophy also guides my learning so that I keep focused on the areas of research that help me create the practice I envision. 

Living systems framework

Understanding that my work is set in a living system is at the core of my work. Systems thinking has been a foundation for my work starting in the early 90's. The work we experienced in this masters program in living systems thinking has solidified and broadened my philosophy and has provided me with a strong sense of ownership for the whole. The living systems foundation also helps me focus on social transformation as the mission of my work. 

Foundation theories and mission

Social Cognitive Theory, Cognitivism, and Constructivism are the three core foundation learning theories that form my philosophy and where they intersect, they help me fulfill my mission of social transformation. The embedding of these philosophies in a living systems framework helps me take ownership for how my work impacts the whole system, not just my sphere of influence. My global perspective helps me frame my local action.

Experiential learning/Conversational learning

Where a living systems framework helps provide the context for my work, the content is based on experiential learning. My current research has created a further focus on conversation as experiential learning, which is emerging as a powerful new field--conversational learning. The focus on conversational learning is founded in group dynamics, and learning in a group is where my work is focused. There are many experiential learning contexts where a learner may be individually engaged in learning, however, my focus is on how individuals learn in a group setting. 

In my current work, I am focusing on conversational learning as a specific expression of experiential learning. I have created "Conversation Circles" where supervisors and managers meet and create conversations around issues that are critical for their growth and development. I used my philosophy of learning to help me construct the experiential setting. Real life application is at the core of the work and the work is based on situated cognition. The creation of new  knowledge through conversation is based on learning from each other in a group setting. Since creation of new knowledge is the expectation, this is a constructivist framework and is not epistemologically focused. Multiple perspectives generated by a diverse group in conversation leads to a transformatist process as people come together in circle to share, learn, and grow. 


Helping a learner develop efficacy leading to self-regulation of their learning helps develop the capabilities and capacity in learners which are necessary to help create self-organized learning. Efficacy leads to emergence of innovations which in turn help build sustainable living systems. And finally creating a context where learners will seek opportunities to pursue knowledge is critical for helping learners build capabilities and capacity for change and growth. 

Intellectual pursuit of knowledge

I have chosen to focus on conversation in my work not only because of my passion for conversational learning but because I believe conversation is the best context for supervisors and managers to transform the way they do business. Simply sending a supervisor or manager to a class on coaching and leadership will not provide the context for transformation of the way they do business. Classes and workshops do offer knowledge that can provide information for conversation and learning; however, they do not facilitate learning as a stand alone process. It is through the work of the "Conversation Circles" that learning starts to take place and supervisors and managers begin to believe in their ability to lead their teams based on a coaching and leading framework. Each learner is a teacher and learner helping them build efficacy in their ability to transform the way they do what they do. Through conversation, I model a coaching framework helping them to construct their new model of leadership. As we work together, we set expectations and standards to manage to, helping supervisors and managers focus on the areas that will lead to a successful  transformation into leader centered coaches. 

Through conversation, learners begin to construct new knowledge and contribute to each other's learning. They begin to seek out the opportunity to learn and grow together. Learning becomes a catalyst for participation in conversation. A constant focus on conversation as a means of understanding each other, learning, building relationships, honoring differences, and creating a powerful culture based on trust and respect is helping change the dynamics of how we do business. Leaders are emerging through the process and are helping engage others in the challenge to learn and grow. My team is learning together in cooperation which is creating a more fun and enjoyable work environment. 

My Philosophy of Learning and Teaching

Copyright © John Inman January 1, 2003