the value of assessing readiness to learn

The Value of Assessing Readiness to Learn

Assessing your readiness to learn reveals valuable information to help you in your spiritual quest.  Are you ready to learn, and what are the potential roadblocks?

Many people are curious and have the desire to learn more about the spiritual journey.  The realm of spirituality is the inner quest.   But are we prepared for this undertaking?  To answer these crucial questions, we need to determine if we are ready to learn.

The Readiness Assessment Tool

There are many different ways to assess learning.  For example, you can evaluate learning style, the learner’s coachability or agility, and overall readiness for a particular subject or learning environment.  We use the above criteria as a prerequisite for our blended learning platform.

Evaluation is a critical part of the process, which provides crucial data for use by both the instructor and the participant.  In our learning model, everyone shares responsibility for both of these roles.  We use four essential tools to gather data to provide a snapshot of the learner’s readiness.

The most exciting journey is the one that takes us inward.  It can be scary for many. That’s because the inward journey exposes our sacred ground.  These are the collection of beliefs that often have a dominant influence on our worldview.

Think of these tools as taking pictures from several different vantage points.  Then when you put all the snapshots together, you have a complete picture. It’s a snapshot that shows the readiness of the learner.   This picture is valuable to both the instructor and the person who wants to learn.  The objective is to achieve optimal learning.  The goals of this assessment are:

1) Identify any roadblocks to learning because of preconceived ideas, including any negative cultural programming.

2) Develop the best learning methods and paths based on their learning style and learning agility.

3) Determine their adaptability, their openness to new ideas, and unfamiliar processes.

4) Assess their ability to learn and share with people from different backgrounds.

We start the evaluation process with a working hypothesis:

We base our perception on expectations, not reality.  We believe this hypothesis is accurate, and we want to prove it to the participants with the data from this readiness assessment tool.  We can show them how people interpret the same data differently.

We know our worldview or paradigm is the window through which we experience the world.  It is not a direct experience of reality but an individually crafted representation using a preset list of criteria.  The more beliefs we have, the more clouded the window, the more distorted our view of reality, and this is the first lesson.  What we believe affects how we interpret everything, and this affects our readiness to learn.

Most people would agree this finding is factual before we begin the exercise.  We find everyone agrees once we complete the activity and see the results.  So, we must clean the window of any harmful ideas because these will distort our perceptions.  The more beliefs you have, the more distorted your thinking about reality.   These are formidable roadblocks to learning new or unfamiliar spiritual technologies.

Assessing Readiness to Learn

To get the most out of any learning opportunity, you must be ready to learn.  So, the first step in our blended learning process is to determine the readiness of the participant.  We identify the learning goals, and then the evaluation process tells if we can achieve these objectives and what roadblocks the learner needs to overcome.   It helps the instructor develop the best learning path for the curriculum.  In this way, the student has the best learning experience and most favorable learning outcomes.

Assessing readiness to learn involves gathering data.  It is not an assessment of intelligence like an IQ test.  It is an evaluation that helps us determine the participant’s openness to learning.  And, this will help us identify potential roadblocks to learning.

Your readiness and ability to learn are on a continuum.  On one end, you have open-minded freethinkers; they have the best learning outcomes with the least amount of issues.  They will learn also learn from and contribute to the learning of others in the group.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who are very closed-minded.  These folks may not be there to learn at all.  They often have a secondary plan like recruiting members for their favorite religion.  Not only are they not open to new ideas, but they also disrupt the learning environment for others.

When we encounter this closed-minded person or have secondary gain issues, we offer them alternative methods like virtual or individual instruction.  We don’t want to disqualify them from learning, but we also don’t want them to interfere with the learning of others.  People can overcome these roadblocks; it just takes some extra work.

Most people fit somewhere in the middle of this continuum.  They may not be freethinkers, but they may have some religious baggage.  We can work with these limitations by providing a targeted roadmap of activities and tools.

Here are the four primary tools we use to assess readiness:

1) The Enneagram Personality Profile and Instinctual Variant Stack
These tools help both the instructor and participant to understand the typical thought and values of personality and instinct. It helps them understand the hard-wired thought scripts.

2) Cultural Photograph Identifier
This exercise involves viewing a series of photographs showing different types of people. We ask the participant to describe who they are and how they make them feel.  It helps us identify if the participant has any negative ethnic or racial stereotypes that could hinder learning.

3) Cultural Narrative Questionnaire

This questionnaire is a set of statements from which the participant picks two that best describe who they are.  It will identify any preconceived biases or prejudice that could be a roadblock to learning.

The Symbolism Exercise
The first group activity is an adventure where we ask participants to share what they know about several symbols.  We use this to assess their ability to work with others.  It is also an excellent way to test their openness to new ideas and information.

The Readiness Assessment Tool

Readiness Assessment Tool

1) The Enneagram

The Enneagram’s first steps involve completing two questionnaires to identify your main personality stack and the second to identify your instinctual stack.  The information here helps both the participant and instructor with the potential roadblocks to learning.  It will explain the range of reactions a participant may have as they encounter ideas that may be new or conflict with their worldview.

The data from these questionnaires act as a blueprint to help both parties within the process.  So, this part of the illumination process can help the participant understand what may be going on and why they make various choices.   It doesn’t matter what your dominant, wing, or tri-type.   All types can enjoy success with this blended learning method if they are operating in the healthy range. It’s the first readiness assessment tool.

2) The Cultural Photograph Identifier Exercise

The instructor shows them 50 photos of people and asks them to give quick, honest, unfiltered answers to two questions about these people.  Sometimes the images are of just one person, sometimes a group.  Some photos are color and some black and white.  They have 3 seconds to view the picture and make their assessment.

This exercise helps us in assessing readiness to work with people with different worldviews. It’s important because most of our groups, even virtual training, come from diverse backgrounds. It’s not uncommon to have over 50% of the group come from a different culture, and English is a second language.

  • What does this photo tell you about them?
  • How does this photo make you feel?

Below is one of the photos we show.

happy children

3) The Cultural Narrative Questionnaire

We give this questionnaire after the photo exercise, and this is also a timed individual written exercise.   The participant has 4 minutes to review 25 statements and pick two to four that best describe them. It’s a vital readiness assessment tool that helps us correlate the answers given in the previous two tools, The Enneagram and The Cultural Photograph Identifier Exercise.

There are fifty statements without labels.  We mix up the statements randomly for each participant.  So, there isn’t a pattern in their order.  Here are two examples in this questionnaire.

I am spiritual, but not religious. I don’t belong to any religion.  I conduct my own research and practice things like meditation and Tai Chi.

I have always been involved in my religion.  It is part of my family heritage.  I see my religion as doing good for the world.  I do not believe religion should inspire violence.  I fear the loss of my religion by the government.

This part of assessing readiness to learn helps us determine if they can work with people with a different worldview. It is a cross-check to ensure we are getting truthful answers.   Their responses to the photos should be congruent with their answers on the cultural narrative.  In other words, their description and feelings about the pictures should match the statements about their worldview.

4) The Symbolism Exercise

This readiness assessment tool shows the link between symbols and superstition. It’s a group exercise where we present several icons.  It isn’t an exercise to determine what they know about these symbols. It’s an exercise to see how they react to information that may not align with their current worldview.  We want to know if they are receptive to new information.  If they aren’t receptive, then they aren’t ready to begin our intensive blended learning process.

Before we start the exercise, we go over the emotional check process. It’s a tool to help people maintain or regain their “emotional equilibrium.” This way, they all have a tool to help them deal with information that may conflict with their own beliefs.

We start the exercise with the Hamsa symbol.  And we explain some cultural history of this object. We talk about how some cultures use it as a ward against the evil eye.

The Cognitive links Within Symbols that Trigger Fear

The folklore or superstition of the evil or wicked eye curse dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. Babylonian and Assyrian cultures are the birthing places of all Western mythology and religion.

The Hamsa is a symbol with several elements.  It pictures a flower, forming the palm of a hand with an eye in the middle.  It has a rainbow of colors emanating from the center.   Some cultures use it to repel a curse.  Or rather, your belief in the symbol repels the curse.

The folklore or superstition of the evil or wicked eye curse dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. Babylonian and Assyrian cultures are the birthing places of all Western mythology and religion.

We first ask participants if they have heard of the evil or wicked eye.  We ask them to tell us what they know and what they believe.  We show them the Hamsa symbol. Many people with Indo-European backgrounds learn about the evil or wicked eye curse and Hamsa from their families.  It illustrates the connection we have with our ancestors.

The discussion of this symbol can reveal some interesting folklore.  Some cultures use prayer as a ward against such curses.  Others use a nail through a lemon. The use of a Chicken Egg is another method that comes from the practice of Voodoo. Candles and rituals are other elements some use to protect against this curse.  And, of course, the other talisman like the Hamsa are popular protections.

Interestingly, this study opens the door for discussion about other types of family folklore.  These connections always lead to Western religion.  Then, back again to the correlation between viewing people’s pictures, like in the cultural photograph exercise above, the children’s picture.

Then, we look at the symbols of the three main religious symbols of the world.  These symbols include the cross for Christianity, the crescent and the star of Islam, and David’s six-pointed star for Judaism.   We then share some data about how earlier belief systems used these symbols.

We are not looking for agreement to see if everyone is open to information that may not align with their current belief system.  It is common for people to be surprised about some of this data.

Examples From Assessing Readiness To Learn

For this article, we will look at the data from three tools:

    • The Cultural Narrative Questionnaire
    • Cultural Photograph Identifier and
    • The Symbolism Exercise

We won’t use the data from the Enneagram.  The instructor and candidate participant use this data to formulate the best learning path and tools.

We will use data from two candidate participants. We’ll call them Person 1 and Person 2. Even if the candidate is not ready, they will know about the potential roadblocks which impede their participation in this learning environment.

Person 1

The Cultural Photograph Identifier Exercise

Person 1 views the photo in the example above and answers:

These are happy children.  They appear to be poor because I saw one boy who had a torn and dirty shirt.  Some of them had long hair in their eyes.  They make me feel like they need care and attention.

The Cultural Questionnaire

Person 1 chooses the following two statements to describe themselves.

I have a mindset that places a priority on promoting the ethical and equitable treatment of people.  And it emphasizes critical thinking and science for solving problems.

I base my decisions on scientifically verifiable evidence rather than superstition or the belief in imaginary entities.

The first description is a paraphrase of the Humanist point of view.  The second describes an atheist.  This person initially identifies themselves as non-religious but spiritually curious.  They said they weren’t an Atheist or Humanist.  However, when we explained the definitions are for a Humanist and an Atheist.  They are surprised but agree, yes, that is how I feel about myself.

Their assessment of the picture aligns with the statements they describe themselves.  It shows their answers are probably consistent with their philosophical identity.

The Symbolism Exercise

Person 1 had seen the Hama symbol before but did not know what it represented.  They had also heard the term evil eye but thought it was just an expression of speech.  They thought it meant someone was angry.

They identified all three symbols with their respective religious affiliations.  They expressed some surprise at the data regarding the use of these symbols by earlier religions.

Person 1 Summation

We believe they are ready to participate in the regular curriculum with other participants based on their answers.  We would use the Enneagram profile data to learn how to get the most out of this learning track.

Person 2

The Cultural Photograph Identifier Exercise

Person 2 views the photo in the example above and answers:

These kids are filthy foreigners, probably from a backward country.  They make me feel me uncomfortable.  I would watch my belongings closely.

The Cultural Questionnaire

Person 2 chooses the following two statements to describe themselves.

Faith in religion is a major part of my personal identity.  I believe and follow the direction given by my religious leader because they are divinely inspired.

I feel obligated to defend my religious beliefs.  I would engage in lawful demonstrations and use violence if necessary.

Based on their answers to the cultural questionnaire, Person 2 would fall under a hardline believer’s classification.  They typically see their religion as their identity.

When we read the definition for this, they agreed that it described their lifestyle.

The Symbolism Exercise

Person 2 is familiar with the Hamsa symbol.  They tell us that their religious group underwent some training to identify pagan symbols used by Witches.  The Hamsa is one of the symbols they believe is evil.  They think some people use it to cast a curse. They were surprised that the historical belief behind this symbol is the exact opposite of their previous understanding.

Person 2 Summation

Based on the combined answers, we talk individually with person 2 to explain the data.  Their answers tell us they are at the low end of the continuum for readiness to engage in this type of process.  They have strong opinions, which are barriers to learning, and it is more than likely that they will not mesh well with people from vastly different worldviews.

It doesn’t mean they cannot take part in learning.  It means that “Person 2” could use personal instruction to help them deal with the roadblocks to the general learning curriculum.  In this case, we would recommend using comparative analysis, a structured form of comparative religious study.  We would lead them by selecting relevant topics to help them understand their current worldview’s similarities and origins.

Lessons About Our Beliefs

1) We base our perception on expectations, not reality.  Using this readiness assessment tool gives the participants first-hand experience with how our perception is a uniquely constructed worldview combining our beliefs and expectations.  We see how other people view the same data and come to different conclusions.

2) Superstition and belief are slippery slopes.  The symbolism exercise shows us how symbols are a mixture of superstition and mythology.  We create value judgments on the worldview we form, making us more susceptible to other superstitious beliefs.

In Summary

Assessing readiness to learn is a critical part of the learning process.  It helps us understand why and what we think and value.  It helps us know ourselves.  In this way, we can get the most out of the blended learning method.

“Know thyself.” ― Socrates

If this article resonates, there are more on our blog. To find out more about our organization, see our FAQ page.

Are you interested in spiritual exploration?  Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (1).  Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions.  Please consider donating and supporting our mission.


(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia

You Might Also Like