Rome Wasn't Built in a Day: Why Transformative Learning Takes Time


  • John Tagg Professor Emeritus, Palomar College


transformative learning, mind systems, knowledge projection, meaning perspective, working memory, mindful perspective


This article approaches student learning as a non-linear path, comparing the transformative learning process to one’s driving, which requires accidents, roadblocks, and delays. Referring to Daniel Kanheman’s (2011) “mind systems” to better explain the cognitive journey, System 1 happens automatically and unconsciously, while System 2 is a state that requires more mental attention. Usually operating in System 1 without conscious control, students often fail to engage in logical reasoning or recognize their need to seek new information when necessary. Changes in students’ meaning perspective will take time though, for it challenges the traditional school system which emphasizes mindless learning and testing in timed structures. Through understanding the way our working and long-term memory operates, students can go from the previously instilled mindlessness involved in traditional schooling, to mindful reflection on learning activities and engagement in true transformative learning practices. Properly reflecting on the accidents, roadblocks, and delays involved in the process removes the student from a timed racetrack and places them on a personal journey where he or she becomes a self-conscious agent of his or her own thinking.


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Senior Editor