Light in action learning
Wright, N. (2022), 'Light in Action Learning', Action Learning Associates, 12 September.
Light is a cultural symbol that we often associate with revelation, illumination or enlightenment. In English idiom, we may see a person or group in a good – or bad – light. We talk about shedding light on someone or something. We use a light bulb moment to describe the experience of a sudden, perhaps serendipitous, realisation or discovery. Light is a common image in spirituality too; for instance, in the Bible's depiction of Jesus Christ as the Light of the world, Judaism’s Hanukkah with its eight lights, and the Hindu tradition of Diwali, the festival of lights. It’s as if, drawing on its literal meaning, we associate light with seeing, perhaps in a fresh light, what is there more clearly.
I found myself curious recently about this idea of light in relation to Action Learning. I had written an assignment at the end of my postgraduate psychological coaching studies entitled, ‘Walking a Path of Light’, drawing on inspiration from Psalm 119:105. I had been very struck by how, at the end of the course, my tutors and my fellow students had reflected back to me: ‘You are a shining light’, ‘You have been a beacon of light’, ‘You brought light to the group, to all of us.’ As a follower of Jesus, this felt very significant for me. I must confess that it feels uncomfortable to write about myself in this way, as if it sounds arrogant or breaches a code concerning the value and importance of humility.
Yet, I do believe there is something that matters here. Action Learning is sometimes regarded simply as a process that has a raft of skills associated with it; principally to stimulate insight and create solutions through posing and grappling with critical questions. I can’t help feeling, however, that this is overly-reductionist. The 3 transformational core principles that guide my own coaching and Action Learning work are: prayer, presence and participation. Most of the people and groups I work with will be unaware of these explicitly, yet may (I hope) experience them and their effects intuitively as light. What does light evoke for you? How could light enhance your Action Learning facilitation and practice?