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The Learner’s Journey

Küntzel, Bastian (2019). The Learner’s Journey. Storytelling as a Design Principle to create powerful learning experiences. BoD

Bastian invites his readers to set on a quest in the landscape of storytelling as a design principle to create powerful learning experiences. His book “The Learner’s Journey” is written with lightness, wit and lots of practitioner’s wisdom. The four main parts of the book focus on storytelling and working with stories, setting the “learning scene”, the learning flow with building a story and last, but not least, a collection of appealing examples depicting the use of the Learner’s Journey approach in different contexts. 

Bastian looks back at the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell and follows the path shown by an US-American screenwriter, Dan Harmon, who reduced the complexity of Campbell’s framework and applied it to writing sitcoms and comedies. The entire circle got taken out of the mythological realm and simplified from 17 to 8 steps. This underlying structure inspired the eight steps of the Learner’s Journey, designed by Bastian.

In the first phase, called The Purposeful Departure every facilitator should focus on the protagonists – the learners, their need and the moment when they leave their comfort zone and set on a learning journey.

In the second phase, called the Exploration, the search for knowledge, skills, and new perspectives starts. It is followed by finding “the new” and taking new “learnings” home. 

The third phase, called the Transformative Integration, is marked by the return to the known word and implementation of changes. 

Drawing by Michal Wronski from Bastian’s book “The Learner’s Journey”

Why has Bastian decided to apply Campbell’s Hero’s Journey in the learning context? Because, as the author says: “Learning is about transformation and not just the transformation of the end of one person but the transformation of the world that person inhibits.”

Additionally, the author gives voice to thought leaders of our times and quotes Daniel Kahneman, who in the context of “homo narrans” distinguishes between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self”, which is a storyteller, Yuval Noah Harari, who describes homo sapiens as a “cultural being” and Amy Edmondson, whose concept of psychological safety shows how important it is to keep balance between challenging and offering safe spaces. 

During planing and implementing the Journey structure every facilitator needs to keep in mind that it is crucial to find the right balance between “Challenge and safety, between the novel and the repetition […] between the map of knowledge, skills and attitudes that already exist in the brain and the new ones. 

It is crucial to remember that the Learner’s Journey is a framework and not a method and at the same time, a unique perception rooted in the tradition of storytelling and not a prescription. Every facilitator who decides to apply this approach enters the landscape of adventure and can discover new possibilities of transferring knowledge and skills into new contexts as well as enjoy observing development of new attitudes among the learners.

What is great about this book is its practical approach, wonderful sense of humor and inspirational character for every trainer, facilitator and educator.

For more information and details how to purchase the book, check please

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