Residential Life Collegium

Guided Learning Philosophy

The faculty of Berea College approved The Philosophy Of Guided Learning in the Spring of 1996. It continues to be the guiding principle for the work of the Student Life department.

Guided Learning is a way of interacting with others based on:

  • individual and group reflection
  • self-direction, and
  • belief that good leadership requires the ability to first be a good community participant.

A Guided Learner strives to balance both individual and community needs. A Guided Learner will not sacrifice integrity for popular opinion.

Guided Learners know that sometimes they will be the teacher and sometimes the learner. It depends on who possesses the skill and experience and not who is in the power position.

Policies and processes based on Guided Learning empower groups to:

  • be self-governing
  • encourage healthy challenge of the status quo
  • keep leadership hierarchy minimal and
  • emphasize teamwork through commitment to reaching common ground and shared vision.

Berea College, in a 1912 Supreme Court case (Gott v. Berea College), accepted the role of In Loco Parentis, meaning “in place of the parents.”

Until the mid-1990’s, Residence Life reflected a parenting approach. These are the rules and this is the punishment if you break them.

Living on a college campus was understood to be an extension of home life. The nature of the relationships between faculty/administrators and students should reflect a relationship between parents and children.

It became evident that Berea College was ready to redefine itself to empower and involve all members of the community.

Why should this redefinition involve everyone you ask?

The more people involved, the more the community will have participated in its own creation. That results in greater commitment to shared vision rather than mere compliance to rules and regulations.

This redefinition would include

  • cross-departmental collaboration
  • policies based on principles of civility rather than control and punishment and
  • the honoring of civil discussion to bring about change.

The positive outcomes of the Guided Learning approach include:

  • greater capacity for self-appraisal
  • creativity and critical thought and action, and
  • increased instance of change propelled by healthy collaboration between faculty, staff and students.

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