What if somebody isn't qualified for a learning circle?

All learning experiences come with prerequisites. For learning circles, the expectation is that participants are fluent in the language that the learning circle is happening in, and that they can navigate their way around a web browser. Occasionally, learning circle topics will have more required skills (such as an intermediate Spanish learning circle or web design). If this is the case what should I, as a facilitator, say to the unqualified participant? @Nico_Koenig any thoughts?

Great question @grif !

I like to believe that every single person in the world has experience and expertise in some capacity. I find systems that categorize people as qualified or unqualified don’t do enough searching and validating of what is already known! I also think this way of thinking can sometimes put up roadblocks and discourage people from reaching their intended longterm learning goals.

Instead of thinking about qualified or unqualified, I like to think about the purpose, goals, and understanding.
In my opinion, learning circles need a common purpose, and some common goals and conceptual frameworks are important too. I would say that if someone is starting to learn their first word in Spanish, and someone is looking to improve their business language in Spanish, then they have very different goals, and I would recommend that these individuals not be part of the same learning circle.

But, not necessarily. We all have a capacity to support one another reach goals. So, someone may not be able to give you advice on web development, but they are ready to remind you to do your homework, ready to see your final project and give feedback, and act as an extra peer support in order for you to reach the goals you set out to do!

Generally, I would say, where it makes senses, note to the group that people have different capacities or goals, and see if the group wants to continue, separate entirely, or work in small groups with larger group peer support.

I should also note that at our last big meeting of facilitators in Kansas City, our group discussed the "What is a Learning Circle?" Scenarios Activity and we encountered a similar scenario where a facilitator asked the learner to leave the learning circle because the topic (excel) was too advanced for the learner. We struggled to come up a with a clear answer!

@dirk do you have any other thoughts to add?

This is such a tough question for sure. I’ve encountered this many times with my book group which limits members to a specific age range that most of the other book groups don’t seem to attract.

But in terms of learning circles, I think this is a great way to realize that maybe you need to have additional courses at different levels. So, you can plan for a beginner Spanish course after you do your Business Spanish course, as an example, and direct that one student to the other course.

Just a thought.