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Introducing the Five Learning Disciplines

Schools that train people only to obey authority and follow the rules unquestioningly have poorly prepared their students for our increasingly complex and interdependent world. Today, people in all walks of life are called upon to act with greater autonomy, to lead as well as follow, to question difficult issues in a safe manner, and to become more conscious of the habits of thought that govern our behavior and shape our prospects.

Personal Mastery

: Personal mastery is the practice of developing a coherent image of your personal vision—the results you most want to create in your life —alongside a realistic assessment of the current reality of your life today. This produces an innate tension that, when cultivated, can expand your capacity to make better choices and to achieve more of the results that you have chosen.

Shared Vision

This collective discipline establishes a focus on mutual purpose. People with a common purpose (e.g., the teachers, administrators, and staff in a school) can learn to nourish a sense of commitment in a group or organization by developing shared images of the future they seek to create and the strategies, principles, and guiding practices by which they hope to get there. A school or community that hopes to live by learning needs a common shared vision process.

Mental Models

This discipline of reflection and inquiry skills is focused around developing awareness of attitudes and perceptions— you’re own and those of others around you. Working with mental models can also help you more clearly and honestly define current reality.

Team Learning

This is a discipline of group interaction. Through such techniques as dialogue and skillful discussion, small groups of people transform their collective thinking, learning to mobilize their energies and actions to achieve common goals and draw forth an intelligence and ability greater than the sum of individual members’ talents.

Systems Thinking

In this discipline, people learn to better understand interdependency and change and thereby are able to deal more effectively with the forces that shape the consequences of their actions. Systems thinking is based on a growing body of theory about the behavior of feedback and complexity—the innate tendencies of a system that lead to growth or stability over time.

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