The Master of Arts in Learning and Thinking (M.A.L.T.) is a 36-credit degree program that embraces a philosophy of education rooted in relationship, holism, and meaning. MALT is predicated on establishing a New Culture of Learning that develops the knowledge, skills, competencies, and imagination for a world in constant flux. Towards this end, the program nurtures the emergence of a collegial learning community dedicated to co-creating new meaning within a constructivist and transdisciplinary context.
MALT’s Postmodern Learning Model seeks to promote a New Culture of Learning through the following Six Central Themes:
- Promote meaningful and alternative approaches to learning and thinking that encourage what holistic educator Douglas Sloan refers to as insight-imagination. Sloan describes insight-imagination as “…an act of perception, permeated with intense energy and passion that penetrates and removes barriers to existing thought and frees the mind to serve in new ways and directions. Insight announces itself as a whole…that includes new forms of imagination and new orders of reason…”
- Redefine the role of "learner" and "teacher" as co-creators in the participative framework of learning and thinking.
- Transcend the current Western Modernist Mindset by adopting a new participatory worldview whereby learners promote, maintain and generate a dynamic process for meaningful learning and thinking.
- Tear down the artificial barriers to knowing we have come to refer to as "disciplines" and refocus our attention to the interpenetrating and interwoven processes that serve as a common ground to all knowledge systems.
- Renew what it means to be a "teacher" whose role is to “draw out” natural inclinations and abilities, rather than “pour in” information. This new role of facilitator and coach promotes the active processing of information into knowledge and ultimately into understanding.
- Explore other dimensions of human experience: other than the logical and linguistic ways of knowing, including but not limited to those of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences and five minds for the future, as well as Daniel Pink’s “right-brain” skills to foster the development of a new generation of creators who as “…artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys…”
The Master of Arts in Learning and Thinking Degree program has three major components:
1. Program participants are introduced to a critical examination of American education, with particular emphasis on the fact that the current model leaves students at a disadvantage that can only be remedied by a significant change in the way we structure and approach learning and thinking. What is needed today, more than ever, is a shift in the way we understand what today’s youth need in order to take a more participatory role in constructing their learning and developing competency in using the thinking skills required to become self-regulated learners.
2. MALT offers educators a framework for real and effective educational transformation. This framework consists of a shift towards a more post-modern process and learner-based approach for education that, unlike the current “one size fits all” instructivist model, provides constructivist-learning opportunities for a diverse and unique population of learners.
3. The overall curriculum is based on a progressive postmodern framework and delivered in an articulated, scoped and sequenced series whereby the nature of learning and thinking is presented as a holistic, emergent and creative process. Therefore, the flow of the program emerges over time from the following premises:
- Cognition is directly connected to our emotions and, as such, provides us with “windows” to better understand how we learn and think as creative subjects.
- The postmodern educator challenges the traditional notion that classrooms need to operate according to the reason and logic of a rigid curriculum that predicts the learning outcome. Rather they recognize and promote learning by drawing from and building upon the insights of educational researchers like Howard Gardner, Lev Vygotsky, David Ausubel, Tony Wagner, Ken Robinson, Elliott Eisner amongst others.
- From this new perspective, the learner is not perceived as someone disconnected from the learning environment. Rather, the learner is a participatory member of a learning system comprised of the teacher, students and socio-physical learning environment in which they are embedded.
- The postmodern framework offered here strives to contextualize learning by encouraging students to see and make connections and thus integrate learning in one area with that in another. This framework fosters the acquisition of higher reasoning, as well as critical and creative thinking abilities.
- Furthermore, this system includes the inter-subjective exchanges that occur between all learners in their environment. Rather than viewing learning as a personal and subjective experience, a postmodern epistemology perceives learning as a social and intersubjective process. Learning, in this context, is as an emergent process predicated on the assumption that classrooms operate best when there is an element of dissonance and chaos issuing from the "sensitivity to the initial conditions" of the learning environment.
- Individuals are unique learners with distinct prior experiences, propensities and conceptual schemas. Learners drive to create meaning as a result of interacting with others and their environment.
- Our intentions, motivations, and personality emerge from an interaction between our inherited tendencies (Nature) and our experiences (Nurture). Over time the confluence of these tendencies and experiences give rise to a unique set of beliefs. However, many of our beliefs lie beneath our conscious awareness. Therefore, change and transformation of learners can only begin when we gain access to the origin of the memes, metaphors, and myths that comprise our unique personal worldview.
The program is intended for:
- Teachers and educators who wish to expand the boundaries of their professional knowledge and skills as well as explore new ways of learning and thinking and of relating with their students, which provide them with experiential learning opportunities that encourage them to develop not only their knowledge but also their self-awareness and life skills.
- Women and men who are seeking the sources and processes of thinking, learning and creating meaning and wish to become members of a learning community that participates in experiential and constructivist activities designed to provide insight into the nature of the ways of knowing and conceptual frameworks underlying how they perceive, think and act.
Program taught in: