The six learning realms

This framework is one of my own, developed at a time when I was thinking about my son’s educational needs and wanting to make sure I had a sense of the big picture there. Taking a high-level view, what does a human need to know/learn in order to thrive in their life?

There are various existing framework designed to give an overview of the key features of learning as a topic– Bloom’s Taxonomy is one familiar example. But I wanted something in the form of a brief process-oriented heuristic that reflected my own sense of what’s important, based on my readings, experience and reflections.  Here’s what I ultimately landed on:

The six learning realms

Presented in order from the most fundamental to the ‘top of the stack.’

1. Media
Have and improve one’s systems for encoding/storing/decoding information

  • human language skills
  • mathematics
  • drawing/sketching/rendering
  • knowledge of computer code

2. Content
Learning fact-based information about the world, the self

  • physics, cosmology
  • geography
  • biology
  • history

3. Values
Knowing what you believe in, and what you want from life

  • ethical principles
  • utilitarian practices
  • tastes and aesthetic preferences

4. Skills
Internalizing algorithms and recipes for doing things efficiently and effectively

  • professional skills (eg framing a house or a sound legal argument)
  • social skills (eg holding a conversation, courting a potential mate)
  • recreational skills (eg freestyle swim strong, playing a G chord on the guitar)

5. Actions
Not learning per se but rather the right application of what has been learned

  • successfully creating a functioning app using computer code
  • completing a performance of a piece of music for an audience
  • landing a job
  • winning a game of tennis

6. Meta
Advanced conceptual frameworks, often drawn for the experience of the previous layers, that turbocharge the overall process

  • executive functioning skills (such as planning, time management and emotional regulations)
  • analysing and tweaking one’s own long-term behavioural patterns
  • learning about learning (aka metalearning) in order to improve one’s ability to learn going forward

While I came up with this one as a way to think about my son’s education, I now use in whenever I want to do a quick, high-level review of where I or someone I’m working with stands with their learning. Where in the overall picture are there gaps and weaknesses, and what can be done to address them?