Life brings many challenges, lessons, and opportunities. Individuals and societies are constantly in a state of flux, perpetually evolving and adapting to confront new challenges and extraordinary circumstance. In response to these occurrences, each of us carries our own expectations, values, and beliefs. Some times different paths cross and we must negotiate difference, and sometimes our expectations fail to meet reality and we must embrace change. Ultimately, we are always learning.
For the second issue of The Elements Experiment: Journeys, Lessons, and Illuminations our contributors reflect on the act of learning. How do we, as individuals, learn to better ourselves? To achieve personal fulfillment? To function in society? How do we, as a society, decide what is important to learn and to teach? Where do we learn and how do we learn? Learning is an activity that we are engaged in at almost every moment of every day, we would be nowhere without our ability to understand and to adapt, yet learning is something that we do not always pause to reflect upon. It is our hope that this edition of The Elements Experiment prompts you to reflect on the importance of learning and the multiple ways in which we acquire knowledge.
Taken together, the contributions curated for this issue highlight the significance of both informal and formal learning, particularly when it comes to asking questions about faith and personal growth. Some of the contributions demonstrate that we learn about our communities, our histories, and ourselves often when we least expect it, whether through creative expression, during an impromptu walking excursion, or while in conversation with family and friends. Other contributions emphasize the importance of cultivating conducive learning environments in formal educational settings. All of the pieces demonstrate how issues of religion, the secular, and public spaces deeply impact the learning process. Taken together these contributions reveal that learning requires patience, willingness to change, and openness to other perspectives.
Those of us involved in The Elements Experiment have learned a great deal in recent months and are continuing to learn as we develop this new and exciting project. We are grateful to our contributors for sharing their lessons with us and we are hopeful that you, too, will be inspired to reflect on your own journeys of learning, and to submit a piece sharing your personal reflections with us.
– Meaghan Weatherdon and Ayesha Valliani