Rosa Mariano, an active Life Team member from Zambezia Province, greets her neighbours. Photo: Rebecca J Vander Meulen
Rosa Mariano, an active Life Team member from Zambezia Province, greets her neighbours. Photo: Rebecca J Vander Meulen

LIFELONG LEARNING

Editorial by Alice Keen

I recently returned from a trip to Central Asia where I visited a silk factory. The secrets of making this beautiful material first travelled with the merchants along the famous ‘Silk Road’ from China in the 5th century AD, as one person taught another and production spread to new regions of the world. Having been transmitted across cultures, this knowledge was also transmitted across time, as generation after generation learnt, and then taught others, this skill.

On my visit, I learnt many things. I learnt about the history of this factory and where its products are sold around the world. I learnt about the process of tie-dyeing which creates the distinctive fabric of this region. I also learnt an amazing fact: each silk worm weaves a cocoon which contains 1,000 metres of silk thread! 

In one workshop, I talked to a master craftswoman who was weaving carpets. She had a young apprentice who had been with her for six months. It takes years to become a skilled carpet weaver but this young lady was on her way. She spent her time watching her teacher, practising her own skills and trying new and more challenging patterns. Along the way she made mistakes and undid them. Sometimes she noticed these errors herself and sometimes her teacher had to point them out. But little by little her work improved.

It made me reflect on the way we learn from Jesus as we work alongside him and watch his perfect ways. As his disciples, we need to have an attitude of learning; being humble in heart, admitting our mistakes, asking for help and then living changed lives!

In this issue, there are articles on learning from others through visits and stories and advice from the DRC, Mozambique and Guatemala. I know that Footsteps readers are people who like to learn new things so I am sure that you will enjoy ‘learning about learning’!

We have already chosen the next issue to cover in Footsteps: Maternal Health. Helen Gaw is well-placed to edit this edition having just returned to work after maternity leave. We will be sharing the Editorship from now on, so I will be back to do Issue 92.

Please find below articles from Footsteps issue 90 in html.

To download a pdf version of Footsteps issue 90, please click here (PDF 1.3 MB).


  • Bible study: Learning from Jesus

    Learning from Jesus by Roland Lubett Learning and education were highly valued in first-century Jewish society. Every village and community had a synagogue, which served as the place both of learning and prayer.

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  • Choosing to learn

    We may think that we do not learn much in our everyday lives but when we take time to reflect on what we have learnt, it can be surprising and encouraging. It can also help us to plan learning goals for the future.

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  • Creating a culture of learning

    by Astrid Foxen The world is changing constantly and in order to respond to the many challenges facing the people we are seeking to serve as an organisation, we need to be continuously learning and adapting.

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  • Face to face learning in Mozambique

    by Rebecca J Vander Meulen The Diocese of Niassa in Mozambique works through ‘Equipas de Vida’ (which means ‘Life Teams’ in Portuguese) to share learning across communities. These teams are volunteer community groups of about 18 people.

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  • Feedback from around the world

    One way of learning and improving your work is to ask for feedback from others. These can be people you serve, or your peers, who can give insight into areas you need to change and encouragement about what you are doing well.

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  • Learning at a distance in Guatemala

    Distance learning is a way of studying a course without attending classes in a fixed location. The course material and students’ coursework may be sent by post, emailed or provided on an internet platform.

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  • Learning visits: seeing with your own eyes

    Reading case studies can be a very useful way of improving our own work in the community. We can learn about innovation, copy successful models and adapt them to our context as well as being inspired by others’ successes.

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  • Letters

    Footsteps in practice Footsteps has greatly improved the social welfare of our communities in Malawi because people are putting into practice items that they read in the magazine. The impact is very high.

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  • Resources

    ROOTS 3: Capacity self-assessment Developed in 2003, this tool enables organisations to gain an overall impression of their capacity, giving a picture of the stage of their development and providing insight into their current and potential impact. Although modelled on other assessment tools, it aims to be specifically relevant to Christian development organisations. The three modules cover ‘internal organisation’, ‘external linkages’ and ‘projects’. ROOTS 3 will help readers to highlight positive aspects of their organisations so that they can be encouraged and affirmed. This tool will also draw attention to those areas needing improvement and a learning plan can be developed. The tool may not be relevant for every situation, so organisations might want to adapt and improve the tool according to their individual needs. PILLARS Guides PILLARS Guides provide practical, discussion-based learning on community development. The Guides are designed for use in small community groups such as…

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