Unfolding Learning Societies: Deepening the Dialogues

Vimukt Shiksha Special Issue

April 2001




An Invitation to the Reader


We published our first book on the theme of unfolding learning societies in March 2000. That was just before the World Education Forum at Dakar, Senegal, and we hoped that our publication might contribute to expanding a process of critical and constructive reflection about the vision, processes, and actors driving the Education for All Campaign. We also hoped that it might serve as source of further inspiration for people who wanted to stop looking at the world through tainted school-colored glasses and wanted to try to understand themselves (both individually and collectively), Nature, and the human spirit in new ways. Lastly, we hoped the book would lead to new opportunities for learning and growing amongst the Shikshantar family. We knew then that even the partial fulfillment of all these hopes was dependent on our being able to generate meaningful dialogues with diverse peoples around the world and to connect these dialogues to each other.


One year later, it is difficult assess how successful we have been. We have, to some extent, been able to connect to and generate discussions related to learning societies in different part of the world. Much of these discussions have focused on: (1) how to mount various challenges to the illegitimate monopoly of schooling, the global media and the global consumer industrial society and (2) how to regenerate non-schooled spaces, expressions, knowledge systems, relationships and wisdoms. This special issue of Vimukt Shiksha seeks to share some of these conversations with you in an effort to further demystify and deepen the dialogue on learning societies.


We will repeat the warning that we issued in the first book: this is not a how-to manual, it is not a prescriptive workplan, and it is certainly not a declaration. For those in search of quick-fix, replicable solutions, it will be a great disappointment. Rather, this book should be taken as an invitation to get involved in an organically evolving and highly contested discussion, which has great implications for the future of humanity and for all life on this planet. Unless each of us takes an active role in creating our own learning communities, the concept of learning societies will remain hollow.  No degrees or diplomas are required to do this – only an honest commitment to make oneself vulnerable to the inspiring and moving processes of life.


We invite you to join us in deepening the dialogues on learning societies.  We have created a space on our website to host peoples’ ideas and to make connections between people who are interested in working further on the concept of learning societies.  Click here for more information.


– the Shikshantar family

Table of Contents


View PDF of entire issue (1.1MB file)




View PDFs of separate sections (smaller files):


Navigating Learning Societies

Manish Jain                  In Search of Learning Societies…

Vachel Miller                A Learning Society Retrospective


Soaring Above Entrenched Frameworks

Charles Otieno-Hongo Exposing ‘Sustainable Development’ Rhetoric to Make Way for Learning Societies

and Isaac Ochien’g      

Wasif Rizvi                   Innate Morality vs. Indoctrinated Righteousness: A Challenge of Choices for Learning Societies

Dayal Chandra Soni      Rethinking Education and Development: A Gandhian View

Anuradha Joshi             Learning in Villages Today: Remainders or Reminders?

Shilpa Jain                    Engendering New Visions of Gender



Cultivating Learning Ecologies

Ash Hartwell                The End of Planning: Notes on Public Policy and Educational Plans

Beryl Levinger              Democracy and the Learning Society: One Coin, Two Sides

Jim Botkin                    Towards a Wisdom Society

Peggy Holman              Learning Societies: A Picture of What’s Possible

Anand Dwivedi             Deprogramming through Dialogue

Jan Visser                     The Challenge of Walking Without a Road Map, Yet Finding One’s Way

Cole Genge                  Nurturing: An Alternative Learning Cosmology



Growing Hope for the Future

Margaret Wheatley       Restoring Hope to the Future Through Critical Education of Leaders

Jennifer Gidley              ‘Education for All’ or Education for Wisdom?

Munir Fasheh               From the Soils of Culture: The Qalb El-Umour Project in the Arab World

D. James MacNeil        From School Societies to Learning Societies

Shikshantar Team         “If Not Schooling, Then What?” : Learning Parks of Possibilities



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Editors: Manish Jain, Vachel Miller, Shilpa Jain

Special thanks to Selena George, Isaac Ochien’g, and Dahlia Nayar for their assistance.


Portions of this document may be freely reproduced with source and respective author(s) acknowledged.

For a hard copy, contact Shikshantar, 21 Fatehpura, Udaipur, Rajasthan, INDIA