Block (2011) states in Chapter 19 of his book that the role of the consultant can be defined as that of a “learning architect”. What a fascinating concept and certainly one that conjures up something other than the stereotypic image of a consultant. But, what exactly is a “learning architect”?
According to Block (2011), the consultant designs social settings that lead to insight resolution of differences, and change (p. 300). This alludes to an occupation designed for those not content with the mundane, “business as usual”, or status quo type of work environment. Rather, it suggests the excitement of confronting the elements of adventure often found in the transition, tension and chaos of the work environment. Clearly, the consultant is one who is open to the learning that every encounter can bring and enjoys constructing a setting in which others can share in the learning. Much like an architect takes the landscape, climate and culture of a particular place in mind when designing a building, similarly, a learning architect would take the presenting problems, the perceptions, feelings, thoughts and ideas of those who will contribute to the solution, as well as the values, standards and norms of the business or organization in mind when constructing a setting in which learning could occur and change happen. The concept of the consultant as “learning architect” helps me see process consulting in a fresh new perspective.
I raised a question last week in class as we discussed our scores on the adult education inventory as to how one might reconcile having preferences in the progressive and humanistic philosophies while working with adult learners who by nature of their profession must comply with very strict standards and societal expectations; a profession which is competency based, involves technical and skill training and standardized and criterion-referenced testing. How does one find the freedom and opportunity to design educational activities with a progressive and humanistic perspective in an environment traditionally based upon behavioral adult education? As I contemplated this, it occurred to me that perhaps graduate medical education (GME) was just the kind of place where a “learning architect” might flourish these days. As the landscape of GME changes, educators are looking for new ways of enabling their adult learners to reach the required standards and how to create means by which to track their progress in learning. Rather than simply being yet another task to frustrate educators and administrators, it may well be that the institution of educational milestones is an attempt to recognize individual learning styles, to appreciate the varying paces in which learners will develop competency, and that there is room to be creative and nurturing even and maybe, especially, in the profession of medicine. If so, then maybe, just maybe, medical education is just the place for someone like me as I journey on this road to becoming a “learning architect”!