“The brain learns best when it is exercising in highly challenging, but low threat environments.” 21st Century Learning Initiative
At RDIconnect, our programs focus on rebuilding the brain’s neural pathways that have disrupted the naturally occurring parent-child Guiding Relationship, which opens the door to learning!
The critical thing that is happening in the Guiding Relationship is what we have termed MindGuiding; the systematic method for transferring essential dynamic processes from the mind of the guide to the mind of the student in a manner that can be applied by the student in their real world. When scientists study interaction between infants/young children and adults, they find that adult and child intuitively assume respective ‘guide’ and ‘apprentice’ roles. Both act as if their collaborative goal is to facilitate the development of the apprentice’s Dynamic Intelligence.
Experience-Based Learning and Knowledge
This dynamic learning process begins the moment a young child’s feelings of uncertainty trigger her desire to build more effective maps of the terrain between knowing and not knowing. She then embarks on a lifelong journey where gradually, under the tutelage of trusted guides and her own expeditions, she becomes adept at authoring ‘future screenplays’, serving to illuminate grey areas between what she confidently expects and what she has no way of foreseeing. It is through this process that the student builds her own bank of experience-based knowledge; the memories of success that bring competence and confidence to try again.
The Transfer Process
Unlike instructional knowledge, you cannot deliver experience-based knowledge. Rather it must be transferred from one person’s mind to the other. Guides are involved in communication, invitation and influence, rather than in a “delivery” process. They provide opportunities for students to engage with new ways of thinking and experiencing but never coerce or demand learning or performance. Guiding actions are always taken within a larger framework of safety and an atmosphere of mutual curiosity and exploration. Guides carefully prepare their personally constructed knowledge, so it is transferrable to a less experienced student “apprentice”. They try to provide externalized access to their mental processes in a simplified, slowed manner.
What do guides transfer?
- Personal identification as a competent decision-maker
- Investment in taking the time for careful, mindful decision-making
- Potential location of decisional opportunities
- Knowledge-based strategies and methods related to decision-making when engaged with specific situations in complex, dynamic events
- Learning to turn experience into knowledge
- The investment in and habit of learning from each engagement – from mistakes as well as successes (dynamic feedback)
Guides journey with the apprentice right to the threshold – the fuzzy boundary between the apprentice’s experience of knowing and understanding and not quite knowing understanding. Guides construct engagements that serve to dis-associate the student’s experience of crossing the threshold of understanding, from crossing the often-related threshold of anxiety and feelings of incompetence. The apprentice learns that he can safely step into that fuzzy unclear not-quite-knowing area, without worrying about the consequences
“The edge of chaos is where life has enough stability to sustain itself and enough creativity to deserve the name of life.” Waldrop
Guides walk a tightrope between offering challenging opportunities that students can own as personal achievements and providing enough scaffolding and support so students can succeed. By conducting ongoing dynamic assessment, guides seek to find and remain on or near a dynamically changing student edge of competence: Too low and existing pathways can handle the problem. Too high, or too many, and the brain will move into avoidance mode.
Guides provide the structure to carefully lead students up to the threshold state of not quite knowing. They limit the steps that the student takes to make sure they are not setting themselves up – biting off more than they can chew. They provide the security that assures students they can safely take to take another step over the threshold of their current understanding and competence. They regulate and monitor to make adjustments and revisions if the step requires adjustment or to provide a “safe landing” if the student does not experience success when taking the step in the unknown.
Related: Getting to the Heart of a Child
Functions of a MindGuide
The guide’s role is to influence rather than control and they function as choreographers where they facilitate an ongoing process where student discoveries are most likely to emerge.
- They act as a catalyst, leading students to the edge of their competence and inviting them to take one step beyond, but not forcing or demanding that they do so.
- They view themselves as a “potentiating” and not a “directing force. They do not directly challenge the student.
- They are careful not to unwittingly become obstacles to the emergence of the student’s experience of actively contributing to his own mental growth by over-controlling the engagement. Rather, they provide opportunities and invitations for the student to challenge himself.
- They recognize the importance of students experiencing that they themselves have made the conscious decision to move out of their comfort zone and engage with challenges
- Guides develop a hierarchical, but collaborative relationship with the student that gradually becomes more equal realizing that apprentices must learn to succeed without them
- They construct lessons so that when students leave, they will continue, through their own efforts, to extend and expand on what they have learned
- They construct objectives that are a small step above the child’s current level of competence. They learn to determine the dynamic edge of student competence and systematically build in a small “step-by-step” fashion from wherever the student may be.
Teaching Students to Reconstruct, Construct & Co-construct
Guides realize that before students can benefit from the transfer process, they must learn to re-construct the guide’s knowledge in a personally meaningful, significant and functional manner. Later students learn to construct knowledge independently from their own experience as well as co-construct knowledge with partners.
- Development of self-aware, conscious, flexible and efficient knowledge processing
- Developing the innate drive for growth and organizational complexity, flexibility and efficiency as a lifelong, deliberate process
- Transferring the application of experience-based processes and skills to the student in a manner that the student can apply to improve his or her daily life
- Transferring the habits and skills for the student to routinely self manage the application, construction and organization of experience-based knowledge
- Guides realize that apprentices must learn to succeed without them