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  • Paola Napolitano

WorDs in progress



Getting used to selecting the right hashtags on social media to catch the right audience, has possibly helped me locate a few subjects for my AOLs today.


It may take a multi-perspective analysis to ponder over and select the right words or labels that define your practice. At least for me it takes time, reflection and learning. During our first Zoom call yesterday, we talked about our practice.

As a visual learner, and not a fun of public speaking, I tend to simplify my thoughts by jotting bullet points before it's my turn to speak. Thanks to time constriction, I quickly managed to summarize key concepts depicting my current practice and future areas of focus.


What is my practice? This is probably the reason why I am taking the MAPP. Since I have welcomed the opportunity to gain new insights on experiential learning, I have been trying to absorb every single notion about this subject, learning from self-reflection, re-evaluate reflective conclusions based on new theories, in the hope to quickly figure out the meaning of it. Not surprisingly, the sure answer I have had so far is 'I don't know yet'. I can clearly distinguish teaching models I am attracted to, but little can be said on what my practice entails.

Reading through different learning style categorizations, I could identify mine in many. The pattern I generally adopt about my professional and personal identity is dualistic: one identity exists in absence of the other. So if I am an Activist, I am not a Theorist, and so on. Even a static or compartmental definition of what I do and who I am, limits the possibility to include the process and not the outcome of my learning.


Since I have always struggled to differentiate the meaning and implications of being a 'facilitator, coach, teacher, mentor' after our discussion, I searched for study material offering an in-depth explanation about them. The article 'On becoming an experiential educator: the educator role profile' by Alice Y. Kolb, David A. Kolb, Angela Passarelli, and Garima Sharma was eye-opening to me. It gives a detailed explanation of multiple factors contributing to a broader learning architecture, rather than a steady vision.


The dynamic consideration of the Experiential Learning Theory and Educator Role Profile by Kolb reflects the fragile, yet resilient relationship co-existing between learners and educators, that continuously changes.

I understand a constant dialogue, made of proposal and response, or 'Reading and flexing' as Mary Follett argues, between the educator and learner, is needed. The article reports how regular adaptations to the subject, emotional reactions, and environment demand occur in the experiential learning cycle.

It also stresses the importance of contextualizing the teaching tools, according to the educational activities, and the preferred method an educator tends to adopt, based on her/his prior learning.

This resonated with my tendency to prefer theories over practice, but also the limitation caused by my prior learning of dance in applying my Somatic Studies.

Looking at the reflective purpose of AOLs writing, I can recognize the times when it was easier for me to use a subject focus approach to teaching, and times when facilitating experiential learning was a learning curve. It still honestly is!


My current and future interest is placing the learner focus at the center of my teaching/facilitating practice, as opposed to evaluating her/his skills against a pre-set evaluation framework. Learning how to learn is not an easy task, because it requires an ongoing openness and acceptance of new 'frames of reference' as Moon states. At the same time, learning how to educate requires deep listening and capacity to contain, moderate and invite progression. A learner can guide his/her teacher, becoming the educator himself/herself. Roles can switch to accommodate growth at times.


Through my theory research, re-assessment and clarification of my role as educator and learner, I can now understand better the meaning of reflective practice. However, the lesson I am learning is there are no quick conclusions to make.

In summary, key words may help, but the use of specific terminology may be subject to change, for a number of reasons, new findings, adaptations to society demand, etc. It is difficult to choose words to label one's practice, not only for semantic reasons, but also for the nature of learning itself which implies change.


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