Although everyone has a personal learning story, not everyone has been fortunate enough to work and learn in an optimal learning environment over time.

Why is that? If we know what we need in order to learn how to use our minds well, why don’t we act more proactively to create those sorts of places for adults and children?

A central goal of the Faces of Learning campaign is to change this equation — and to make sure that all of us understand more clearly what the ideal learning environment looks like — and requires.

Of course, one way to find out would be to read all of the stories on this site, and to see which core conditions appear most often across our community’s experiences — whether it’s a 3rd grade class, an Outward Bound course, or a church mission in a foreign country.

We welcome you to do that — and we know how long it would take.

Here’s a simpler alternative: check out the tag cloud on the right hand side of this page, and see at a glance which conditions of powerful learning are most essential, based on the lived experiences of our growing community of storytellers.

Then, ask yourself and your colleagues, “In what ways is our school (or organization) already set up to support this list of attributes? In what ways are we currently set up NOT to support this list? What would we need to change to make sure that all people had the chance to learn in this sort of environment all the time?”

What Else Can I Do?

Every school or organization is a work in progress. Still, check out these places to get a sense of how different communities are going about the process of creating better places to work and learn:

Education Reimagined offers a map for discovering, connecting with, and visiting learning environments exploring different elements of learner-centered education.

At Science Leadership Academy, an inquiry-driven public high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, three essential questions form the basis of instruction: “How do we learn?” “What can we create?” “What does it mean to lead?”

At Zappos, an online retailer with headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada, the past few years have witnessed exponential growth and success, a fact CEO Tony Hsieh and others attribute to its emphasis on a healthy, supportive organizational culture.

At Urban Academy, a public school in New York City, students attend a school that is designed around the belief that what students think and have to say are essential components of the overall learning process – and that it is possible to assess students in meaningful ways that go beyond mere standardized tests.