by Caroline McGowan

The first TU Dublin local learning circle for 2021/2 was held on 10 September. The participating lecturers were joined by 2 community partners, Kaethe Burt O’Dea from Bí Urban, and John McEntee from Recycle IT, to explore how best to build sustainable relationships with community partners to support CERL. We were also briefly joined by Dr Réka Matolay from CUB, who are leading on the development of the learning circles, to welcome them to CIRCLET. The group also explored their orientations to, and motivations for, CERL, and how best to support effective collaboration among the group, as well as having time for some individual reflection.

Second Learning Circle in TU Dublin – The Importance of the Affective Domain

‘Think of a bunch of red balloons floating away etched with your preoccupations and worries ‘

In this time of online learning we often jump into meetings and workshops without giving ourselves the time to recognise how preoccupied we are before we start something new, and so to begin our recent Learning Circle Session we invited all participants to take part in a ‘meditative moment’ to think about the space they were in and what preoccupations they had. If only for a moment it provided everyone, facilitators included, with a time for reflection on our own daily lives, before letting our preoccupations go, as if they were floating balloons, in order to concentrate on the learning circle. And after all reflection is at the centre of all CERL projects.

The main focus of todays session was on competencies. The word competency more often than not brings to mind words like ‘aptitude, capability, expertise, skill and proficiency’ and while they are important in our session today there was a recognition of the importance of ‘affective’ competencies when it comes to the creation and execution of CERL projects. Although students do not systematically learn these competencies they are a critically important element of education. Collaborative discussion between the community partner and lecturers brought to the surface the importance of emotional intelligence, of listening and understanding, motivation, flexibility and social learning among many others. The discussions certainly left some ‘food for thought’ for all involved.