Transformative Learning Theory— an Overview Essay

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Transformative Learning Theory— An Overview
This section of the monograph provides a brief overview of transformative learning theory from the perspective of Jack Mezirow. Also discussed are the conditions that need to be present, from his perspective, to foster transformative learning. Its intent is to provide a synthesis of its major premises, not an exhaustive discussion, that includes enough information from which to understand the implications and insights gained from discussing the various unresolved issues about transformative learning theory. This overview is followed by two alternative perspectives of transformative learning: Boyd’(transformative education) and Freire’(social transfors s mation) that contribute to our
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However, when a radically different and incongruent experience cannot be assimilated into the meaning perspective, it is either rejected or the meaning perspective is transformed to accommodate the new experience. A transformed meaning perspective is the development of a new meaning structure. This development is usually the result of a disorienting dilemma due to a disparate experience in conjunction with a critical reappraisal of previous assumptions and presuppositions. It is this change in our meaning perspectives that is at the heart of Mezirow’theory of perspective transformation— a world view s shift. A perspective transformation is “ more fully developed a (more functional) frame of reference . . . one that is more (a) inclusive, (b) differentiating, (c) permeable, (d) critically reflective, and (e) integrative of experience”(Mezirow 1996, p. 163). Although less common it can occur either through a series of cumulative transformed meaning schemes or as a result of an acute personal or social crisis, for example, a death of a significant other, divorce, a natural disaster, a debilitating accident, war, job loss, or retirement. Often these experiences are stressful and painful and can threaten the very core of one’existence (Mezirow 1997). A s perspective transformation can be better understood by referring to an example given by a participant in a recent study on