safe zone collage
The Learning Circles Project
tree collage
How we learned - The Symposium
Read Quotes and see Posters

In the last year of the study, we brought more people into the process of analysis-through-discussion at a symposium. 

Just as we had begun to see the Researchers and the Lifelong Learning Working Group as learning circles, we saw the symposium as a learning circle, one that widened the process of analysis-through-discussion.  We called the symposium Widening the Circle.

The symposium brought together sixteen participants representing three rural learning circles, two Indigenous learning circles and four urban learning circles.  This group also included members of the Working Group, the Researchers, a staff person from the Federation of Women’s Institutes of Ontario and faculty and researchers from the Centre for Aboriginal and Indigenous Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. 

We decide to facilitate the symposium using the approach to learning and knowledge creation that we had observed in the learning circles.  We did not tell the participants that we were going to do this, but they soon recognized what was happening, leading to this exchange between Maria Matias, a learning circle facilitator, and Arthur Bull, as he facilitated one of the sessions.

Maria:  Do you know what I felt yesterday and today?  This has been a very positive experience for me, because I found that when we came together, it was . . . The group is kind of, was set up, you know, whoever organizes things, on ones such as simplicity, acceptance, take it as it is.  Because there wasn’t these expectations, you know, you know how sometimes you go into a group or a situation and there is these expectations of  this professionalism, of this or that or the other, and then you feel, oh, am I going to be able to meet that level, so I’m not going to do anything at all and be vulnerable.  Because in here it was based on just be as, come as you are and be as you are and all of that, then all of us, all right, would just be as we are, but then grow a little more from the experience. 

Arthur:  I think you’ve found us out, because this is . . .  We thought, “How do you find out about learning circles?  You do it with a learning circle.”

At the symposium, all of the participants in the circle brought knowledge about learning circles.  Members of learning circles brought knowledge from the experience of participation in the various circles.  The Researchers and members of the Working Group brought knowledge from their involvement in the project, against the background of their discussions.  At the symposium, these kinds of knowledge were negotiated.  At the symposium, these kinds of knowledge were negotiated. The result is on this website where you can read from the transcripts of the symposium and see the posters which the participants made. You will also find the results of what the researchers learned at the symposium reflected in the:

  • the recommendations about how governments and communities can support learning circles
  • our overview of the impacts of learning circles
  • our overview of  how inclusion works in learning circles
  • the Beginner’s Guide, especially chapters 9 and 10


Beginner's Guide
How we learned
What we learned
Who we are
Our Partners
and Funder
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Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy National Literacy     Secretariat
National Indigenous Literacy Association
The Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Centre NALD