Learning as Shared Practice in Monastic Communities, 1070-1180


Author: Micol Long
In this study, Micol Long looks at Latin letters written in Western Europe between 1070 and 1180 to reconstruct how monks and nuns learned from each other in a continuous, informal and reciprocal way during their daily communal life. The book challenges the common understanding of education as the transmission of knowledge via a hierarchical master–disciple learning model and shows how knowledge was also shared, exchanged, jointly processed and developed.
Long presents a new and more complicated picture of reciprocal knowledge exchanges, which could be horizontal and bottom-up as well as vertical, and where the same individuals could assume different educational roles depending on the specific circumstances and on the learning contents.

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Micol Long, Ph.D. (Scuola Normale Superiore – Pisa, 2013) is Senior Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders at Ghent University. She has authored publications on medieval letter-writing and monastic culture and co-edited Horizontal Learning in the High Middle Ages (2019).


1 The Authors and Their Letters
 1.1 The Long Twelfth Century
 1.2 Chronological Survey of the Most Important Authors
 1.3 Comparative and Methodological Remarks

2 The Context of Shared Learning
 2.1 A Time for Learning?
 2.2 The Physical Environment
 2.3 The Social Environment

3 The Means of Shared Learning
 3.1 Social Control and Peer Pressure
 3.2 Imitation
 3.3 Accusation, Admonition and Correction
 3.4 Consolation and Exhortation
 3.5 Sharing Ideas, Knowledge and Experience

4 The Effects of Shared Learning
 4.1 Effects on the Individual
 4.2 Effects on the Community

5 Shared Learning in Female Communities

6 Shared Learning in Other Religious Groups
 6.1 Canons
 6.2 Anchorites

Students and scholars interested in the history and culture of medieval monasticism, the history of medieval education, and the notions of “community of practice” and “peer-to-peer learning”.