Enrol Yourself takes a relationship-centred approach to lifelong learning, connecting adults into peer groups that help each individual multiply their learning over 6 months. Enrol Yourself train ‘Hosts’ who lead these peer groups. We’re featuring a mini blog series, where in each piece, an Enrol Yourself Host reflects on their practice of building strong relationships, as a facilitator. In this blog, James Kite reflects on what we can learn from neurophysiology and companion planting when it comes to peer learning.
Vanessa and Jess
Vanessa Faloye helps change-maker organisations design and deliver social justice education and strategy that builds, agitates, and transforms systems of power.
Jess is a learning designer, facilitator, researcher, activist & artist. She supports learners, creators, schools & organisations to develop their own learning ecosystems to evolve individually, and as a community.
Relationships are Everything
From the day we are born to the day that we die, we are always in relationship with each other. And those relationships deeply matter for our sense of safety, belonging, and dignity. This way of being is deeply influenced by ancient and indigenous cultures who have been sharing stories and wisdom on being in ‘right relationship’ with each other and the earth for centuries. It seems then that the active ingredient in our collaborative work, whatever that work may be, is in our mutual commitment to actively shape and invest in diverse, authentic relationships.
We believe that our ability to shape change in the world will only be as strong as the relationships that facilitate that change.
It’s in this unprecedented time too that we truly see how relationships become everything. With reduced social connection, we can see with great clarity how much joy and meaning being together brought to our lives. We all know that humans are social animals, but it’s never been clearer how fundamentally we need to socialise, to love and be loved.
Yet, what we are taught is important to society today is quite the opposite. From our first days at school, we are shown how to instead prioritise ourselves, the individual. We learn through high stake exams that being unique, exceptional and self sufficient is of the highest value and this attitude continues well into our working lives in the world of ruthlessly competitive capitalism. And as we’re swirling in a multitude of crises, from the climate to an epidemic of loneliness, it couldn’t seem more timely to explore radical alternatives. It’s unsurprising then that we, Vanessa and Jess, are influenced by adrienne maree brown’s work on Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. She so beautifully reminds us that “relationships are everything”.
The Ways of Weaving
What we saw when the pandemic hit were examples of grassroots mutual aid groups thriving as expressions of genuine collective care that held us through adversity and austerity. A support system that disability justice activists have been embodying for too long a time unnoticed. On top of this, we also witnessed a huge shift in education, that had previously been teacher-led and classroom-based, to exploring possibilities online, in the home and outside. Tremendous moments of flourishing occurred through the devastating losses, but not without the countless, invisible, loving relationships that supported communities, rather than the competitive, charismatic leaders we typically associate with success.
We are socialized to see what is wrong, missing, off, to tear down the ideas of others and uplift our own. To a certain degree, our entire future may depend on learning to listen, listen without assumptions or defenses
In a pre-pandemic world, we found ourselves trapped by old ideas of leadership. We often wrestled with these rigid and high expectations in our work lives as freelance consultants and educators. We were often perceived to know everything and be everything in the transactional relationships that characterised our work. Not only is this an unrealistic expectation, but it’s a lonely and unsatisfying one that results in experiences, such as social change and educational programs, continuing to isolate those who are most marginalised time and time again.
The Power of Peer-to-Peer
It’s unsurprising then, in this mess of disillusionment and frustration, that we found ourselves jumping into a very different way of learning called Enrol Yourself. A community-led, peer-to-peer approach that puts relationships at the centre of supporting your project, personal and social transformation. Whilst it’s impossible to boil down the essence of the magic that occurred as deep, loving relationships of support were woven, we can safely say that as a result of our 6 month Learning Marathon, we witnessed the power of this approach. Incredibly, learning and making change became less scary, easier, and dare we say FUN!
It is particularly in the magic of weaving together a group of a dozen peers, pooling skills, resources and networks to fuel our development that we witness new possibilities for liberation in education. In traditional education you’re often grouped with those who have the same background or specialism as you. The Learning Marathon is different because we deliberately seek to connect interdisciplinary groups so that skills and perspectives can be pooled and traded.
What is easy is sustainable. Birds coast when they can.
We were so inspired that we wanted to continue this way of being in the world and co-host our own change practitioner learning community called Radically Reimagining Change, to begin 1st May 2021.
Our aim is to shine a light on how relationships are ultimately at the centre of creating communities, ecosystems and movements of justice that can work for all of us.
We’re inviting a group of 10 other wonderful humans from across the UK to co-create an intentional learning space. From the day we are born to the day that we die, we are always in relationship with each other. And those relationships deeply matter for our sense of safety, belonging, and dignity. We hope to be one small step forward, influenced by ancient and indigenous cultures who have been sharing stories and wisdom on being in ‘right relationship’ with each other and the earth for centuries.
The active ingredient in our collaborative work, whatever that work may be, is in our mutual commitment to actively shape and invest in diverse, authentic relationships. We believe that our ability to shape change in the world will only be as strong as the relationships that facilitate that change.
If you are in search of an anti-oppressive, relationship-focused, multidisciplinary learning community dedicated to bringing about liberating change we invite you to get in touch here and apply by 18th April. We can’t wait to be in relationship with you.
- Chloe Valdray @cvaldary through the Theory of Enchantment
- Kerstin Rodgers
- Peer Learning with James Kite at Enrol Yourself
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