The idea of a learning organization where people continually expand their
capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns
of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where
people are continually learning how to learn together has been a relatively
new paradigm, one introduced by Peter Senge in the early 90s. As Senge's paradigm
shift was explored by educators and shared in educational journals, the label
became learning communities.6
In the education setting, the learning community is demonstrated by people
from multiple constituencies, at all levels, collaboratively and continually
working together (Louis & Kruse, 1995). Such collaborative work is grounded
in reflective dialogue, in which staff conduct conversations about students
and teaching and learning, identifying related issues and problems.
Participants engaged in such conversations learn to apply new ideas and information
to problem solving and therefore are able to create new conditions for students.
Key tools in this process are shared values and vision; supportive physical,
temporal, and social conditions; and a shared personal practice.