the value of assessing readiness to learn

Assessing Readiness to Learn A Powerful Readiness Assessment Tool

Assessing readiness to learn is an important tool to ensure the success of learning.  It tells you if you are you ready to learn in a group format, and what potential roadblocks you will probably encounter. Want to learn more?

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 different kinds of readiness and ways things you can assess to make sure someone is ready to learn.   You can look at learning style, coach-ability or agility, and the classic four elements of readiness.  The four classic elements are physical, emotional, experience and knowledge.  An easy to remember them is with the acronym, peek. It answers some critical questions.

  • Is the participant physically able to handle the complexity of the material and can they take part in this learning forum?
  • Are they emotionally ready? Are they motivated to learn, and do they have any personal crisis that may interfere?
  • Do they show they have the experience level, locus of control, and healthy coping skills for this training?
  • Do they have an appropriate level of knowledge and analytical ability to take part?

You can gauge your assessment for a particular subject or learning environment. We use them all in 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.  We use four tools which provide a readiness snapshot.  We recognize that every participant affects the affects the learning outcomes of the group, so we want to be sure they can take part fully.   It is good for everyone involved in the group.

The most exciting journey is the one that takes us inward.  It can be scary for many because the inward journey exposes our sacred ground.  Our sacred ground is a collection of beliefs which dominate our worldview.

These tools take pictures from different vantage points. When you put all the snapshots together, you have a complete picture of the readiness of the learner.  This picture is valuable to both the instructor and the person who wants to learn.  The goal is to achieve optimal learning.  The goals of this readiness assessment tool are:

1) Identify roadblocks due to preconceived ideas and beliefs.

2) Develop a learning path based on style and agility.

3) Determine their adaptability, their openness to new ideas.

4) Assess their ability to learn and share.

We start the evaluation process by proving some hypothesis about perception and our worldview:

The first hypothesis is about perception states: Our perception is a construct of expectation, and we can prove this is true.  We ask participants to share the results of data from the evaluation.  It shows how people interpret the same data in different ways.  That’s because everyone has a unique worldview.

Our worldview is the window or a filter through which we experience the world. It is not a direct reflection of reality.  The mind creates the picture we call reality.  It fashions it from memory, imagination and expectation.  The clarity of our worldview depends upon the level of distortions we accumulate. This is the first lesson of perception.

The second theory is about the health of our worldview.  It says our overall health depends upon the health of our beliefs.  It recognizes religious bias, prejudice and bigotry as unhealthy, so if your religious or political beliefs contain these, your worldview is unhealthy.  Unhealthy beliefs result in unhealthy individuals. We know this is true.  People who are unhealthy do harmful things.  Most agree with these before the evaluation.  After the assessment, it is rare if someone disagrees.  How about you?  Would you agree or disagree with these two assertions?

Assessing Readiness to Learn

To get the most out of any learning opportunity, you must be ready to learn.   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 the most favorable learning outcomes.

Assessing readiness to learn has nothing to do with your level of intelligence.  It is not an IQ test.  This process how you learn and identifies roadblocks to learning.  That’s it.

You can visualize readiness as a continuum with freethinkers and truth-seekers on one end, and closed-minded people on the other end. Open-minded freethinkers 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.

Closed-minded people are typically not here to learn. Their mission is to recruit members for their religion.  Not only are they not open to new ideas, but they also disrupt the learning environment for others.

If we encounter this closed-minded person, 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 fall in the middle of the continuum.  They may not be freethinkers but they may have other things which may interfere with learning.  If the learn and instructor knows what these issues are, then we can find solutions to make their learning experience favorable.  We can work with almost any limitation by providing a special roadmap of activities and tools.

Our readiness assessment tool has four components:

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 of Ego.

2) Cultural Photograph Identifier
This exercise involves viewing a series of photographs of people. We ask the participant to describe the people, and how they make them feel.  This is the most direct way to identify if the participant has any negative ethnic or racial stereotypes that could hinder learning.  It speaks to the health of their worldview.

3) Cultural Narrative Questionnaire

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

4)
The Symbolism Exercise

The first group activity involves sharing your what you know about some symbols. It helps to assess their ability to share ideas and work with others.  It also tests their openness to new ideas.

The Readiness Assessment Tool Exercises

Readiness Assessment Tool

1) The Enneagram

Your journey with the Enneagram begins by completing some questionnaires. The data from these questionnaires acts as a blueprint to help both parties within the process.  So, this part of the illumination process can help the participant understand what is 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 colored and some black and white.  They have 3 seconds to view the picture and make their evaluation.

The ability to work with people from different backgrounds is essential.  It is an aspect of assessing readiness to learn, which we do not overlook.  We have people from all backgrounds and cultures in our workshops.

  • 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

This is a short written exercise.  Only give 4 minutes for participants to scan 25 statements.  Then, they pick the two that best describe themselves.  First impressions are the most accurate.  We don’t give time to think about the choice too much.

This short questionnaire is a vital part of the readiness assessment tool.  The answers here will help determine if the participant is giving consistent answers.  They should align with the answers given for other parts of the evaluation.  Here are examples of two examples.

I am spiritual, but not religious, but I don’t belong to any religion.  Instead, 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’s heritage.  My religion is doing good for the world.  And I do not believe religion should inspire violence.  However, I fear the loss of my religion by the government.

It is about assessing readiness to learn with others with different backgrounds.

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.  But it isn’t an exercise to determine what they know about these symbols. This is 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, and can work with a diverse group of people.

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 give some cultural history about it. 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 to the mythologies of Babylon and Assyria.

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 about evil or wicked eye dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, to Babylonian and Assyrian cultures.  These are the birthplaces of Western theology.  It all starts here.

We first ask participants if they have heard of the evil or wicked eye.  Then, 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 the Hamsa symbol reveals some interesting connections with other symbols or implements and ties with cultural beliefs, folklore and superstition.  Some cultures use prayer as a ward against such curses.  Other cultures use a nail through a lemon to dissipate the effects of a curse.  The practice of Voodoo uses chicken egg to capture evil spirits that cause the harmful effects of a curse. Candles and rituals are common props used to protect against this curse.  And, of course, the other talisman like the Hamsa provides protection and ward against curses.

This discussion leads to other types of family and cultural folklore, and these connections always lead back to origins of Western theology.  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.   Next, we share some data about how earlier belief systems used these symbols.

We are not looking for agreement on what the symbol means.  The thing we are looking for here is to see if everyone is open to new data 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 for this article. 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. This data is useful 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.  When we tell them these are definitions for a humanist and an atheist.  They are surprised but agree. Yes, that is how I feel about myself.

Their evaluation 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.  Many had also heard the term evil eye, but thought it was just an expression of speech.  Some thought it meant someone was angry.

Participants can generally identify all three symbols with their respective religious affiliations.  Some 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, most agree 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, and the Hamsa is one symbol they believe is evil.  And, they think some people use this symbol 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

We explain to person 2 that their answers indicate they are at the low end of the continuum for readiness to engage in this type of learning forum.  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.  Private sessions would be a better for this person.

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.  Here, we would recommend using comparative analysis.   It’s 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. 

The readiness assessment tool shows how we create our worldview and proves what we call reality is a unique construct of our mind.  The mind uses memory, imagination and expectations to build our picture of reality.  Therefore, people can view the same data and come to different conclusions.

2) Superstition and belief are slippery slopes. 

The symbolism exercise shows how symbols can contain elements of superstition and mythology.  These elements affect the values of our worldview.

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 any learning process. What are your thoughts? Let us know.

“Know thyself.” ― Socrates

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