learning is an attribution
made by an observer

Since “learning” is always attributed by an observer, we are inevitably always observing for learning.  Difficulties are created when the criteria that we use are pre-determined.  The more explicit and “fair” (in the sense of exactly the same for everyone) we make the criteria, the more limited they become, and the more they obscure what else may be relevant.  I’m back to the landscape of ideas, and the progressive limitation of “knowledge” to key points treated as if independent. 

Observing for learning not only opens up the criteria that are regarded, it has many other benefits.  It discards the artificiality of “tests” for something that pertains to dimensionality of lived skills.  It discards the presupposition of a particular sequence.   And of course the whole approach of “observing for learning” entails more than that through the whole change in attitude. 

In observing my observing I have noticed that  I can observe and reflect on only a certain 'amount' of learning/observations/knowing. It is in my process of reflection through a sort of soft focus that I become subtly aware that this certain amount is in fact a tip of the iceberg. Like gazing in to a body of water, initially we see the surface and what it reflects. When we are present and soften our gaze, the glare of the surface becomes transparent and we can see below the mountainous amounts of content and activity below it.

There is for me, a quality of stillness required in action of reflection that when honoured allows me to see and experience a depth of myself and my experience of living. This seeing is observing my observing. The same quality when practiced in relationship with other living beings allows me to see beyond the 'tip' of (their) iceberg in terms of what I see/know/assume about the qualities, characteristics, abilities, wants and needs of another.

Julie R., May 2013

algkalv photo, wikemedia commons