Modeling Language Spotlight
The Learning Path: Five Points of Mastery
July 10, 1997

Editor's Note: This model was developed by the Knowledge Works Consortium during a DesignShop® event held at the Orlando Management Center in February of 1992. Participants included Gail Taylor, Bobbi DePorter, David Blanchard, Michael Kaufman, Bryan Coffman, Paul Bartoo, Robert Darling, Mark Reardon, Jeffery Barrett, Rick Tabb, Merle O'Neill, and Marjorie Dunn. The following article is excerpted from the team's Proposal to the New American Schools Development Corporation, entitled, "Redesigning Our Future."

Like the other models of the MG Taylor® Modeling Language, the Five Points of Mastery Model is protected by copyright. You can use it only by meeting these four conditions.

We Believe. . .

  • Learning is a lifelong experience that begins at birth and never ends.
  • There is a direct relationship between self image and learning.
  • Environments affect learning. Learning is optimized in creative, trusting environments that provide experience, exploration, risk-taking, and mastery.
  • Learning is an interdependent process involving cooperation and collaboration.
  • Learning involves the engagement of body, mind and spirit.
  • An individual's potential for learning is unknown; without high expectations this potential may never be realized. People excel when they experience high expectations and appropriate challenge.
  • Peak performance is driven by vision and a hunger for a "preferred" state.
  • Learning is a multi-modal, multi-sensory, multi-intelligences experience.
  • Each individual is responsible for his/her learning and for contributing to the learning of others.
  • Education is not the same thing as training. To educate means "to lead forward" and thus to guide an open-ended process, characterized by self-conscious and discretionary activity. To train means "to draw or drag behind" and refers to a closed process of making things habitual or automatic. Learning requires both education and training.
  • Learning happens at different rates for each individual; it can be facilitated but not forced, as it occurs when the individual is ready.
  • Learning is best achieved by defining the learning process as a system and continually taking action to optimize the performance of that system.
  • By establishing a system which both exemplifies and expects responsibility from each individual, and which embeds life-long learning into every segment of society, full and healthy employment will result.

The Learning Path: Five Points of Mastery Model
Our human Learning Path begins at birth. From infancy, the learner embarks on a course that nourishes the innate love for exploration and discovery. A community expecting life-long learning and life-long contributions from its members acts to remove whatever blocks this natural process of growth.

Just as every individual is unique, every learner's learning path is unique. We visualize these through a five part life learning model we call the "Five Points of Mastery." Each individual, formally and informally, moves in and out of these roles throughout their life, gaining a level of mastery of each, as appropriate to his or her life stage.

These roles are: the Learner, the Facilitator-Guide, the Sponsor-Advocate-Advisor, the Steward, and the Expert.

These names were deliberately and carefully chosen to compel a re-examination of these roles, as they apply to each student, each teacher, and each member of the learning environment and community at large.

A vital task for the Facilitator-Guide is monitoring these roles, being aware when a learner moves from role to role, and guiding a learner to the role appropriate for their needs. Similarly the Facilitator-Guide is often placed in the position of Learner, Sponsor, Expert or Steward. Moving between roles, responses change, responsibilities change and opportunities for growth change. Educational plans are conceived, developed, planned and executed with these changing roles in mind.

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An explorer, innovator, self-developer, model-builder and action-taker who is receptive to ideas and guidance, able to reflect and act creatively, learns how to access information and create value from it for self and others. A unique set of contacts--family, peers, facilitators, sponsors, experts, and community members--comprise the Learner's constantly evolving learning network.

One who helps others frame their experience, providing information, concepts and models, linking to new information and avenues of exploration, encouraging further exploration, guiding discussion among learners and removing blocks (both conceptual and material) to the creative process for an individual or team. The Facilitator crafts and delivers challenges that spark individual and team innovation and provokes Learners to break through imagined limits.

A Learner works with one or several facilitators; in each case, the learner and facilitator together create a learning contract and invent appropriate experiences and products. Learners engage in many projects simultaneously, incorporating strands from the core curriculum to weave the necessary framework of understanding and mastery. The Facilitator and the Learner, jointly responsible, manage both process and content.

[Note: the term Sponsor has been added to the original advocate-advisor role because of its importance in our network. Sponsor also seems to capture the essence of the role.] The Sponsor provides the feedback and boundaries that ensure the learning path is effective and balanced, that options are clearly seen, that effort is required and rewarded, and that performance assessments--provided as feedback--are understood and interpreted correctly. The Sponsor's challenge is to optimize the performance of the individual Learner's network. The Sponsor and Learner together plan the Learner's next steps, taking into account the whole person, the individual's talents and interests, and the need to ensure breadth in the curriculum as well as depth in areas of special interest. The Sponsor provides continuity and perspective. Sponsors may change, depending upon the goals of the Learner.

The Expert develops specialized knowledge to a high degree in a given body of knowledge and is a resource to others. Everyone has expertise to share; everyone applies their expertise to create value for themselves and others, as participants in this learning environment.

The Steward applies talents and knowledge in service to others--in stewardship of the community and ultimately of the world. Stewardship means holding a vision for yourself, your community, and your world, and being committed to actualizing that vision. The only way to steward anything is to engage with what we are stewarding in a cybernetic, whole systems manner. By learning anticipatory design, we steward our future as well as our present.

Stewardship encompasses stewarding what we value, what we invent, our personal growth, the growth of others, the health of our communities and the natural environment. Stewardship arises from the philosophy that "all life is sacred" rather than "everything is a commodity."

Copyright 1992, The Knowledge Works Consortium
Glyphs Copyright 1997, MG Taylor Corporation
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