An experience without reflection is not learning. - Paulo Freire

Photo of Paulo Freire - Action and reflection poster

In the Canadian Mexico International Learning Experience we use a theoretical construct called the "Circle of Praxis."

Praxis involves reflecting on on experience leading to change - perhaps a change in personal behaviour, perhaps a transformation of society.

The concept comes out of Latin American Liberation theology, but has been applied in many non-religious settings.

See or Experience. Sometimes this is described as "inserting" oneself into the life-situation of others, and sharing their experience - a difficult task for many North Americans as it means putting aside our natural urge to evaluate, judge, and "do something".

At the beginning of the International Learning Experience we focus on simply experiencing by using all of our senses and listening to our feelings. 

Judge or Reflect.  We have a conversation between our new experiences and an analysis of their context, and between our new experiences and the traditions, assumptions, and world views that shape us.   Reflection sessions are built in to the experience both in Canada and Mexico, in the post-trip seminar day, and through assignments and presentations (for credit participants).

We move to the next step by asking the question, “How are we being called to respond?”   "What are we called to do?" 

Act. In the learning philosophy of this International Learning Experience, we don't plan for action until returning to Canada.  But we do begin to ask the questions: Given my experience, and my reflection on it, how are my values changing?  How might my behaviour change? How might I persuade others to change their behaviour?

And then we move to the more difficult question: How do I move from "might" to "will"?

Celebrate throughout the experience - there are dance and cooking lessons, fiestas, and celebrations of what we have learned, how we have changed, how our world looks different, and what we have accomplished.

Circle of Praxis - See, Judge, Act