What is a learning circle to you?

We often run an activity (see below!) to help people define learning circles for themselves. Try out this activity with your colleagues and post your reply at the bottom of this thread!


Here are some replies from our workshop in Kansas City:


Here’s some feedback from Toronto Public Library staff (March 2019) @Marni_Tam @Larysa_Essex

What is a class?

  • There is a “Captain of the ship”
  • Traditional regurgitation of information
  • If the class is lost, the expectation is that the teacher knows the answer
  • There is a set structure
  • Learners must sit and listen
  • Classes have teachers
  • Lecture style of teaching
  • The recipient is just receiving information without collaboration
  • Students have to be there (coercion)

What is a Learning circle?

  • Motivating
  • Self-help
  • Open - it can go anywhere
  • Based on exchange
  • Allows for failure
  • Goal setting
  • Each learner has to take the responsibility of participation
  • Participants have agency
  • Platform for discussion
  • Flexible
  • More like a seminar or book club
  • Open and supportive environment
  • Fosters individual confidences and grows group relationships

At the end of this discussion, we noticed as many people in the room had negative associations with traditional classrooms and schools. Some people shared their own experiences in schools and feeling forced to be there, instead of a learning circle, where it was more directed by the individual’s interest.