Turning differently toward learning design, and finding the real gift of slow


  • Nicola Parkin Flinders University




Learning design, long-scale view, temporal lenses, existential stances, slow


This paper turns toward learning design, not as a role, method, skill or even style of thinking, but as something that we are already existentially ‘in’, a lived-and-living part of teaching which is natural and arises from the places of our here-and-now situations. This way of understanding the work of learning design contradicts the prevailing position of learning design as instrumental future-work in which our faces are ever turned towards a time that is always yet-to-come. Our work is not, in the temporal sense, of itself, but always on the way to being something other than itself.  As we strive to transcend our current situation towards a greater measure of fulfilment, we are reaching always away from ourselves. Instead, we might take a stance of ‘slow’: Slow makes a space for us to encounter ourselves in practice and invites us to stay-with rather than race ahead. It begins with the quietly radical act of seeing goodness in slowness, in trusting time. Slow means finding the natural pace of our work, and takes the long-scale view that accepts into itself the many tempos and time scales in the work of learning design – including at times, the need for fast work. This paper invites you to pause and sit, to expand the moment you are already in, and to ponder philosophically, rambling across the page with notions of untangling, opening, loosening, listening, seeing, belonging pondering, sitting with and trusting. Taking time to do so is self-affirming. But perhaps the deepest gift that slow offers is choice: it opens a space for considered thought and action, and calls into question the habits and expectations of speed that we have grown so accustomed to.


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