Leonardo Group 20: PhD students start their learning journey

On the morning of Thursday 21 May 2015, 21 individuals found their way to the Da Vinci Institute. These individuals arrived in call to their curiosity by taking the first step of their learning journey. The Da Vinci team was on hand to welcome the PhD students by introducing the philosophy that Da Vinci relates to. Mr Simon Gathua, Key Account Manager for post-graduate studies was the first to address the group and formally welcomed them to the Da Vinci House. Mrs Carin Stoltz-Urban wears two hats at Da Vinci, within the Client Engagement Management as well as the Registry office at Da Vinci and took the opportunity in introducing the rest of the team including Administrators Boitumelo Serobatse and Lebo Toona, Assistant Registrar Karen Verster and Communications Manager Storm Thomas. 

Prof Bennie Anderson, CEO at Da Vinci also addressed the students by encouraging them to critically think, reflect and analyse around the workings of the world, taking into account their pre-conceived ideas and observations of the world and how this may affect or contribute toward the success of their research. The notion of truths was explored as students were encouraged to challenge the rules and norms of society whilst also being true and honest to themselves. As part of the essence that makes up the uniqueness of individuality, perceptions and perspectives related to beliefs, culture and values often define the skeleton of conditioned thinking that promotes enclosed thinking. An awareness of challenging this notion can lead to an opportunity to embrace innovation, out of the box thinking, whilst seeing the unseen and acknowleding the knowing of the unknown. 

The students were shown to their workshop room where they found their seat represented by their personalised learning journal. Prof Richard Chinomona facilitated the Research and Dissertation module which allows constant focus on the development of a research proposal by maintaining a skeleton and body that reflects that of the topic and the integration of such throughout their proposal. Prof Chinomona firstly introduced himself and then each student had the opportunity to introduce themselves. The energy in the room exuded dramatically as each student engaged with the rest of the group and similar interests and passions emerged. As the introductions commenced, a sense of networking and comradery developed which is essential for mode 2 research support as an adult learner, and even more imperative is the sense of community and belonging on a journey that becomes challenging at times but ends with a beautiful sense of achievement, meaning and contribution to the self, others and society at large both on a local level but also globally.