Invitational Learning


Invitational Education
Invitational Theory


Rendering the experience of formal education more inviting

Principal Metaphors

Invitational Learning is not explicit about assumptions or assertions on learning. In the materials we reviewed, proponents appeared to invoke the Attainment Metaphor most frequently:
  • Knowledge is … a territory/area/domain/field (typically involving challenge)
  • Knowing is … attaining a goal
  • Learner is … a seeker (individual)
  • Learning is … journeying (arriving at, reaching, progressing, accomplishing, achieving)
  • Teaching is … leading, guiding, directing, facilitating




Invitational Learning is a perspective on education that begins by asserting four essential human traits: trust (that one will find one’s best way to do things), respect (of others), optimism (with regard to the vastness of human possibility), and intentionality (to do good with/for others). These traits are seen to be developed through “five Ps” – people (mostly teachers), places (mostly school-based), policies (rules), programs (curriculum), and processes – which can be either disinviting or inviting.


Invitational Learning is a stance that is big on moralizing and small on theorizing. It thus presents a frame that is useful for judging, but that offers almost no practical advice – apart from strategies and foci to help people feel better about themselves.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

William Purkey; Betty Siegel

Status as a Theory of Learning

Invitational Learning is not a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Invitational Learning is a theory of teaching – or, perhaps more accurately, a theory of teacher attitudes. It offers little pragmatic advice for the actual task of teaching.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Invitational Learning is anchored in moral imperatives, not formal science.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2023). “Invitational Learning” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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