Mezirow, J. (2003). Transformative learning as discourse. Journal of Transformative Education, 1(1), 58-63.
In this article, Mezirow (2003) makes a distinction between “instrumental” and “communicative” learning. “Instrumental learning” refers to those processes which measure and gage learning, such as tests, grades, comments, quizzes, attendance records and the like. “Communicative learning,” on the other hand, refers to understanding created over time between individuals in what Mezirow calls “critical-dialectical-discourse,” (p. 59) which is a fancy way of saying, important conversation between 2 or more speakers. Another key idea Mezirow discusses is “transformative learning,” (p. 61) which changes the mind, the heart, the values and beliefs of people so that they may act better in the world. Mezirow argues that “hungry, desperate, homeless, sick, destitute, and intimidated people obviously cannot participate fully and freely in discourse” (p. 59). On the one hand, he is right: there are some people who cannot fully engage because their crisis is so long and deep, they are prevented. But, I don’t think Mezirow should make the blanket assumption that everyone in unfortunate circumstances is incapable of entering the discourse meaningfully. One thing is certain: if we gave as much attention to the non-instrumental forms of intelligence–like goodness, compassion, forgiveness, wonder, self-motivation, creativity, humor, love, and other non-measured forms of intelligence in our school curriculums, we’d see better people, actors in the world, and interested investigators than we currently have graduating high school.