What Is Normative Learning?

What Is Normative Learning?

The phrase “normative learning” seems to many to be arcane, obscure, even impenetrable. But the idea it labels is simple enough:

Normative approaches are those that deliberately attempt to change norms, attitudes and beliefs.

Compare the normative approach to change, with its less effective cousins, rational and coercive approaches to change.

The phrase “normative learning” therefore, labels learning that:

  • Arises from direct experiences, often, experiences of counter-intuitive truths.
  • Changes individual and/or collective norms, attitudes and beliefs.
  • Results in changes in behaviours.

Change is a Normative Experience

As John Seddon eloquently puts it “Change is a normative experience”. Which is to say, that effective change (of attitudes, assumptions and beliefs) relies on people experiencing things for themselves, and learning from those experiences about which of their assumption are falsey or inappropriate. 

Only when behaviours change can we say learning has happened.

– Bob

Further Reading

Seddon, J. (2019). Beyond Command and Control. Vanguard Consulting Ltd. (Chapter 2, p 26-29).

Chin, R., Benne, K.D. and Bennis, W.G. (1969). General Strategies for Effecting Changes in Human Systems. Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc.

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). (Chapter 9).

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