KU Center for Research on Learning

KU Center for Research on Learning

Partnership Learning

Putting Conversation at the Heart of Professional Development

"From the outset, the humanist educator’s efforts must coincide with those of the student to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. The educator’s efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, the humanist educator must be a partner of the students in ... relations with them"

— Paulo Friere

Our lives are enriched immeasurably by open and free conversation. In authentic dialogue we open ourselves to new ideas, new friends, new worlds. Through conversation we grow and learn, we express compassion, we touch others and let others touch us. In conversation, we live the experiences of our lives, in spirited, moving talks around kitchen tables, beside fireplaces, at summer cottages, in winter lodges, in automobiles, in classrooms and, we hope, in training sessions.

Recently, the Center has conducted research on how to increase the amount and quality of dialogue occurring during training session. The result is Partnership Learning, a method for planning and delivering staff development sessions in which memorable conversations take a central role. Partnership Learning is a simple, yet powerful, training methodology involving several core principles that are embodied in six easy-to-learn training strategies. This article provides a brief overview of the partnership principles and strategies so you can consider whether they might be useful methods to try out in your training sessions.