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Social Learning - the original learning style? - With Lisa Cumming (Bright Way Podcasts)

bright way podcasts Apr 22, 2021
 

Harpist and multi-creative Lisa Cumming shares how recognizing that social learning is her preferred learning style has skyrocketed her creativity, motivation and confidence. Discover how Community can be your primary source of learning and expressing your creativity. Social/Community is a valid learning style, and perhaps the original learning style! Be sure to watch to the end to hear Lisa’s empowering message of how all people can tap back into their creative spark!


Read Full Transcript

Welcome to Bright Way podcast. Thank you. Thanks for having me. And where are you right now? I am in Alberta, Canada. Fantastic. And can you tell us a little bit about your creative journey? Well, my creative journey started in maybe 10 years ago. I was in a therapy class and I did the yoga, which was amazing.

Then I did the writing. I did the art, which I was terrible at, and I'm not being negative. I'm being honest. I did something else, which I can't remember. And they offered Harp. So we got a 21 string, dusty strings Harp with a case, a cart, a book, music stand a tuner. That might be it anyway.

And so we met weekly and it was absolutely wonderful. Then they said, you've been here a while. There was four of us, I think. And they said, you know, we need room for other people. It was a therapy group. It wasn't a lesson. It was a time and place where we could just go and be and forget the worries of the world and the people in charge that, you know, we love you, but you must leave. We'd been waiting for it. We'd been kind of expecting it for a while. So that is how I got started on my Harp journey. And were you able to keep together with that group of friends that you had made? Not really, once in a while, they emailed to say there's a special Harp thing coming up in the city that I can never make it.

So, because something I thought would be very interesting for us to focus on today is the idea of social learning or community learning. And that, that is a very valid learning style, a valid creative style. You know, we hear a lot about visual learners or auditory learners, these kinds of things, but there are people who learn better in social groups and in social situations where they can bounce ideas off each other,

where they have accountability towards, I mean the whole nine yards. And it's so interesting that the start of your Harp journey was actually a type of social circle as well. It really was. And in that time period, we were quietly close knit and I did take lessons from another gentleman at some point, and I didn't like it. And I realized I was missing the group of that's, what I was missing. So I've really enjoyed our Circle since COVID, you added a bunch of extra social times where people can meet and it's, it's social, it's all social and they're all different in their own way. And it's been so lovely, just getting to know people and you're right. Bouncing ideas off other people because everyone has their own unique spin.

And it's so fascinating. Endlessly fascinating to me. I mean, this is why, you know, as a teacher and a creator for now almost 30 years, you know, I had the big Five-O recently, you know, I'm endlessly fascinated at what unfolds in a social situation. There are so many infinite permutations, it never gets old. I always learned something.

And so, yeah, that is why when COVID hit, it really felt like the perfect time to add all these different types of social activities. So the various meetings that we have as you say, have different themes. So there is a structure around them and some people may like a certain structure more than another. So within social learning, there are also different types,

right? And it also felt like since we were turning five as a Circle, we had really established our culture as a group. We understood that we're always moving from a place of kindness and a place of growth. These are absolutely non-negotiable and I felt it was safe to go ahead and just have these social groups that in fact our members run themselves. I mean,

one of them, you run a hundred percent yourself. I do not run it at all. And so could you tell me a little bit about how that all unfolded? Well, it started because in one of the open house circles, there was a bunch of first time members and they would ask questions and things. And I mean, I'm not an expert on it or anything,

but I could answer the simple questions. Like where do you find this on the website? Where do you find this on the Facebook page? So I could answer some simple things and it was kind of fun. The other thing, the other thing that happened was, again, the wisdom of other people and the ideas of other people, we would just bounce them off each other.

And it also became a, I think, quite close talking and getting to know each other. So when they finished their Spiral one, we thought, why don't we try a Spiral to study group, keep the open house for what it is because they do different things there and have just a separate Spiral to study group. And so it's kind of also helped me stay on track because I need to,

I don't need to watch the videos, but it gives me an intention, a goal to look forward to to make sure I stay on track. Otherwise I'm one of those people as flippy floppy, but if I've got something in mind next week, Oh, I forget what it's called a deadline, there's a deadline. Yeah. Yeah. I'm the same way.

You know, if I don't have a due date, there are a thousand things I'm interested in and I'll participate in all of them. And then I don't necessarily feel like I'm moving ahead very dramatically. I probably am moving ahead, but everything feels so incremental that, you know, it's not as satisfying. So having a few things that are really important to me that I know have a due date around them.

So for instance, you know, with my trio, it's nice for us to have some due dates because then I finally finished the arrangements, certainly within our Circle, you know, various due dates approach. And so that helps me get things in order. And it's a reality. I think we can really make friends with the idea of a due date or a deadline.

If it's something positive, positively framed the way you've done it in the meetings on Monday mornings, it's really helped. Well, it's helped me And I'm hoping it's helping other people. And I mean, it's, we've got a sort of an idea of what we're going to look at or concentrate on. And because it's a conversation, it ebbs and flows and changes direction.

So, but it's always a really good, insightful conversation that we're having. Yeah. I love that. And I love that you really elaborate on things together in the group because for the trainings that I've created, I tried to make them as concise as possible. I tried to just say, here's the thing. Here's the most visceral way I can describe it once.

And then we move on, you know, because I don't want these long three are videos where I'm talking about every possible permutation, but you know, examples are the spice of life. And having people work through stuff in real life and to say, this is what happened to me. This is my example. Somehow the material comes to life in a much different way.

I feel It really does. For example, the, the week we talked about the breath and the breathing, we watched your training video. And then one of the members had a song with, I think, breathe in the title. And so she played the song and she was breathing and it was, it was that's beautiful. Really? Yeah. Right.

And that stays with you in like a mind, body, soul type consciousness, you know, not just, Oh yeah, I knew I should breathe. And this is why I should bring you. It becomes much more poetic and exciting. I think it did was. Yeah. So for this aspect of some people are really social learners and they learn much better in a social context.

Would you say that this was a surprise to hear about for you that this is actually, you know, a bonafide learning style is the social learning style. Yes. Putting a title to it, putting a name to it. I was kind of surprised. I've sort of always been that way. Like I liked learning different cooking things from my grandmother when she was alive or,

you know, in college we would do really interesting things, but it was when it was a group and not a group project, you know, not in school group projects. Well, we did, For instance, we did a dog sled trip and it was a whole group of us together in a tent in Northern Canada. We had an instructor with core,

it was hardcore. I wouldn't be able to do it now, what I could when I was younger. But it's just, you learn so much from other people when, when they say it takes a village to raise a child, I think it's an older style of learning maybe. Yeah. And more a primal style of learning that is right there from the very first inklings of us being human.

And I think that taps into something very powerful. If we tap into something that's very natural to us, that's gotta be a good thing. I feel. So there's this natural aspect of, of group learning. And as fact, in fact, if we think about it, it's probably how humans learned, right. They certainly didn't learn how to books.

They learn from each other and in a group learning context. So there's all the examples that we see from each other. There's the accountability factor. Cause you know, someone else is invested in what you're doing. They're like, Hey Lisa, you said you were going to do this certain thing. Have you done it? You know, and they care.

They're not judging you, that they're invested in, makes a difference rather than Module. Nobody really cares if I do this thing or not. And maybe I'll, you know, watch Netflix instead, you know, it helps It does help and invest it as the right word because I am invested. They are invested. We are invested and I'm part of your Circle is Community.

And many of us are separated. Like for me, I know the closest person to me is an hour away that plays the Harp. And in Canada it's been quite cold. So we can only meet really. We can't only meet during summertime, but it's a better time to meet, especially during COVID when we can't be inside with each other. So this type of community that you've created is just phenomenal.

Really. And it's, it's so welcoming. Yeah. I, I just love it so much. It is such a miracle. It feels like because it's also very organic. People are very much themselves. I feel like they're not trying to be a certain cookie cutter kind of person. Like each person is such an individual and I feel like they become more and more themselves with us.

And it's a beautiful thing. It's very exciting to watch that happen. Yeah. Now, how would you feel that working with Community being in Community has impacted things like, for instance, sharing your music or performance, anxiety, or concerns that many of us tend to have, or have had in the past? It's definitely impacted me in the open house,

in the kitchen chat, even in the healing Harp Circle, the members have discussed certain things they've done and it's like, Oh, that's a great idea. I never, I never would have made a video of myself and put it out there to the world. And now you have, and you've made this point and not only that, but you're training our members,

how to do it. You've created trainings on how to make movies and I've movie and then how to upload them into YouTube. It's phenomenal. But I, I got the initial information from members of the group in one of the open house events. One of the members did tell us how to go onto YouTube and, and do the, make the videos and put them on so other people could see them.

So it's, it's, it's all from the other members that I've gotten the Inspiration and some of the know-how. Right, right. They say that we oftentimes don't realize something is possible until we see it happen. And just watching what other people do, opens our eyes to, Oh goodness. That thing is actually possible. Whereas it may not cross our minds if we don't see it.

True. True. Yeah. So I'd love, just talk briefly about the different types of meetings we have. Cause we've been kind of peppering the conversation with the, the names of kitchen chat, open houses kind of thing. So for instance, the open house hours, there's a couple of them that happen. One's on Monday and one's on Thursday and they're very different characters I would say of each time.

Could you describe a little bit about what happens in both of those from your perspective, From my perspective in the Monday evening, for me it's Monday evening, it's the Monday event. I, when I go, it's usually quite late in the afternoon, evening, early evening for me. So sometimes it's just a diamond on myself there and we'll play back and forth lately.

There's been a few other members, so everyone will kind of take, turn playing a song and we'll go in a circle Or we'll talk and visit a little bit about music or the song or life. And it's good because again, sometimes I haven't practiced and I know I should have practiced a little bit of that song before I came to open house. So it can be a diagnostic as well.

Yeah, yeah. In a totally safe space. And you know what, it's, it's sort of like an open mic night in a way with just Harp players. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Without that drunken guy in the back. Yes. It's a great opportunity to try something new, get feedback from others. Or if you're, if you're wanting to perform it,

it's a good way to assess very safe way to perform it ahead of time. Definitely. I'm a huge proponent of that. I really feel that we can Practice performance exactly the same way as we practice learning a song as we practice mastery. So with practicing performance, we actually have to perform, but we want to be able to do that in a safe space.

You know, it's not wait on, tell us a moment when we're on stage. So by coming to the open house and playing, you get to work through those feelings that we all get sometimes when we're performing and the more that we work through those feelings, the more we know how to manage it, how to manage that surge of energy. So it actually becomes something magnetic rather than something overwhelming.

Yeah. So then on Thursday, open house hours, I know there's also a lot of playing that goes on Usually the first hour. Again, it's usually a focused conversation. So sometimes someone will present. So Messiah was the original person who presented on YouTube for us to learn about Angela will ask different members to present about something. So there'll be a very specific topic.

And then usually the last hour we will play and we've got quite a, a handful of songs really that each person will lead and everyone will play along with them. That's right. You've created a handbook really of songs for the Thursday open house are amazing. I love that. And then Friday is, is yet another opportunity to, to play with a different focus though,

Completely different focus. It's a very quiet meditative. The times I've joined very quiet, meditative sharing of music and receiving of music. And there isn't a lot of talking or visiting that goes on. Someone may introduce the song either before or after, or sometimes they don't and they just play and everyone listens or some people just come and listen, they just play.

And we listen and it's, I feel so calm when I come out of the Circle. Yeah. So that one is the world Harp healing hour, which is hard to say, and that actually got inspired by foot cart journal. Cause you know, when the pandemic first hit Beth Stockdale, who I think is the editor of full cart journalist, she suggested putting on a world Harp healing hour were Harpists all over the world,

play together at the same time with the intention of uplifting the world and giving some hope and some light. And we've been carrying it on ever since. Yeah. Yeah. And I have sometimes popped in to play sometimes popped in just to listen. And every time I feel a shift within me and I'm okay, I feel more myself again. I feel like I've come home to myself.

So it's a very, very healing vibe there. And there's no clapping between songs. It's nothing. Boisterous is just very, very meditative. As you say, then going to Wednesdays, we have a kitchen table chat and that is very much modeled on the death cafe model. And that is where people are able to sit in a safe space and discuss something that may be difficult.

And since our mission with our Circle is how to tap into your creativity and follow through on that. Of course it's a very beautiful thing, but it also is a very vulnerable thing by challenging thing. And so we want to have that safe container to actually be able to talk about the real stuff behind that. Could you share a little bit about your experience with the kitchen table chat?

Sometimes there's a, sometimes there's a topic sometimes there isn't, it's, again, it's, it's different every week, but it's the same every week. There's different people every week, but it's the same people. And, and because of that, it is an incredibly safe space to be. And people are, they really open up and are very vulnerable sometimes with their music or with their life.

It doesn't, it doesn't matter. And it is just a nice time to come and learn more about each other. And again, just sit and though the, sometimes the worries of the world will go away because it's a time and space to, to talk and visit. I'm not using the right words, but it's like, you work out those, those energies sometimes.

Yeah. Yeah. Jocelyn was the initiator of this and she mostly facilitates it or else she hands it off to someone else. Who's a very skilled facilitator because it's true. It's a very vulnerable space that people are in at that time. And we need to know that it can be held and doesn't go off the rails, like bringing up something extremely difficult and then nobody can handle it.

You know? So that one, I guess I would say has the, the strongest container around it, just because it has potentially the most difficult things that people are discussing. And we're lucky to have such skilled people in our circle who are able to hold that kind of space. I'm always so grateful for the wisdom of the people in this group and you're right.

They're all unique individuals and they all have something unique to share and they're very willing to share. Yeah. I mean, I think we honestly believe that when we share and support each other, everybody is uplifted including ourselves, you know, you're really into collaboration, not competition. And I think that really comes through in all these group meetings. It really does like the positivity and the welcoming and the energy of this group is quite lovely.

Amazing. I feel the same way. I'm just like, you know, it's like a beautiful, well to draw from like, I need a drink, I need a drink of some thing, you know, nourishing and I are there it is. You know? And then finally for, for your group, you described it really beautifully where you're working through Spiral to material and oftentimes we'll pick something in particular to focus on from that.

But something else may come up from that material. Yeah. So you're flexible with it. Yeah. And the lovely thing about the Spiral Learning is sort of a spot we're in right now with Spiral too, is so similar to another spot in Spiral one. So everyone is welcomed to join some of the Spiral. One people have joined, but either, yeah.

Even if people from the higher spirals want to join, like their wisdom, they would be, would be greatly appreciated even. But yeah, it it's, it's alive. Like you, you learn and you focus and you think, can you focus again? And you come back new grow and you come back again and you grow some more, like, it's Very organic the way you describe it.

I love that. Like an ecosystem, you know, different layers, feeding up, feeding down, feeding, sideways, everything, nourishes, everything, you know, and everything matters. Every part matters in that ecosystem. Yeah. You know, we've all created together, you know, it's, it's an entire entity, you know? Yeah. It is.

It is it's, it is its own entity. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So it's such a pleasure to talk with you about social learning, about Community learning. And I think you've painted a really clear and beautiful and visceral picture of what does social learning actually look like? You know, all the examples you've given and it's just absolutely fabulous. So thank you for doing that.

The other two things I like to do for all these podcasts is ask a couple of questions. And the first question is what is one misperception that you feel a lot of people have about creativity that you would like to dispel? And then the other question is what is something that you would like people to know right away about creativity, something they need to know today?

So I don't know which one you'd like to answer first. Well, dear, I may answer both at the same time. Yeah. Sometimes creative people are different. They think in a different way. And I think that is the one to dispel. They do think differently, but it's on a different, I don't know how to say it a different level,

but because it's creative, it is a more of a giving to, to others. I think they have something inside of them that they share with everyone. And they, and you have to come from a different sort of angle to be able to do that. And when people are creating music or art or whatever it is, they're creating, they have to be able to go either inward to find that spark.

And, and some people can't, I shouldn't say they can't, everyone can do it. They just need to find the way to that spark. Hmm. Hmm. I don't know. Making any sense at all. Yeah. I mean, I feel like you're saying everyone is creative, the way that you access that creativity can look extremely different. So for some people,

you know, it may be that they are complete really introverted and they just seem to get their Inspiration almost out of the blue. We know that's not true, but you know, it seems that way. Whereas other people will get their spark more ignited by say, being in a group, being in a social situation, then their creativity starts to blossom.

So the idea that there's just sort of this lonely painter, you know, in the target getting ideas and that's the only type of creativity is a huge misperception. I actually think that's an extremely rare scenario is that person, I think people are much more sparked by each other by examples, by going to concerts, by seeing a painting, you know, by being in nature.

So, so thank you for that. And then it becomes incumbent upon us then to discover what is that thing that reignites that spark inside me, or it makes it glow bigger. Cause it really is always burning, but sometimes it can feel quite, quite small. So discovering, you know, what is my learning style? What is my creative style becomes really the most important thing I think in creativity.

And I think in some Learning places you're put into a track or a path and that's the, or it's only one right. Answer like multiple choice. And it isn't the real world isn't like that. No, I know. So in fact, you shared a fantastic cartoon with us where it was all these different animals lined up. There was like an elephant and a monkey and a bird and like a worm and all kinds of things.

And there was someone holding a test and they were sitting behind a desk. There's a big tree over here. And they said, okay, for this test, the winner is going to be, whoever can climb that tree the fastest and just like the worm, the elephant, the derive. I don't think there was a draft there. And the monkey was like,

great. You know? Yeah. I, I, yeah, I don't want to get into a negative or a, some of the places where we learn, but we've done a disservice to so many people by putting people in, in a box and saying, this is the only way to do something. When, when there's, you can learn from other people.

And there's so many other places you can get knowledge from or there's other ways you can learn. So thank you for the Spiral because you've given us different ways to learn and different opportunities to learn and grow and be creative. Yeah. All of it, all of it. Thank you. I mean, I, I feel like we're, co-creating this, and,

and that is the nature of true collaboration and true creativity. And I, you know, when the virus hit, I was like the things that are going to save us are Community and creativity. And we double down on those. And I'm so glad we did, because I feel like we've come through, you know, there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Now we're not over yet, but you know, this light at the end of the tunnel, we've come through in pretty good shape. You know, considering what has been going on in the outside world Circle is welcoming and open and creative. We were able to jump on board right away and people who weren't able to find a creative way to make or have Community struggled.

Yeah. Yeah. We'd already set a lot in motion. We knew how to use zoom. Thank goodness. Oh my goodness. Well, Lisa, it's really been a pleasure spending the afternoon with you and thank you again for really demonstrating. So clearly what social learning looks like, what Community learning looks like and making a very good case that perhaps this is really the original style of learning.

Yeah. Thank you for having me. Thank you for having me. This was delightful. Yeah, definitely. Well, I'll see you very soon. Thank you very much. Bye<inaudible>.

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