Money Heist and Communities of Practice

by alessiob

I know. You have been intrigued by the title yet you can’t help but wondering what is Money Heist – aka La Casa de Papel? And, what does it have in common with communities of learning?

First things first. Money Heist is a Spanish TV-series talking about “an unusual group of robbers attempt to carry out the most perfect robbery in Spanish history – stealing 2.4 billion euros from the Royal Mint of Spain” [1]. The robbers are recruited and led by the so-called Professor. Before attempting the robbery, the robbers spend more than 5 months in studying and practicing the actual robbery.

A Community Of Practice (COP) is a learning community, which revolves around practices [2]. In a COP, learning is a material act, which comes from the experience generated from practicing.

So what Money Heist and COP have in common?

The group of robbers in Money Heist is a perfect example of COP. Although the group in the series spends around five months in planning (read learning about) the robbery, the learning process is boosted by what happens while actuating the robber. One could say that the actual learning process starts when the gang is forced to deal with the unexpected situations happening during the robber.

Identity is crucial in learning communities [3]. Even and especially in COPs. To learn something one has to see herself as a member of the group and possibly share some objective(s). Group identity and bonding is a central element of the Money Heist TV-series. In fact, in the series, the Professor spends the five months of training in favouring the bonding of the members for the creation of a group. Even more, he tries to bond with citizens knowing that their supports will be the real strength of the gang.

Communities are shapeless as their boundaries are constantly changing. Old members go out and new members come in. Also, old goals change in new ones. This process is not always a smooth process and should be taken into account as a potential threat to the community. In the series, this happens all the time with hostages becoming partners of the gang and members of the gang becoming outcasts.

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6468322/

[2] Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In Social learning systems and communities of practice (pp. 179-198). Springer London.

[3] Dron, J. & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca University 

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2 comments

Amanda Hellström 27 April 2020 - 11:25

It is an interesting example you show us. But I Think it does not capture a Learning Community per se, but also points at aspects that makes the community sustainable. I can see parallells to resilience, where the focus is to respond, monitor, learn and anticipate. This is something you can do on your own, but commonly this happens within groups or communities.

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Mehrdad Saadatmand 13 July 2020 - 16:33

I personally did not think that much about the bonding aspect of group members and how it can affect the learning experience and output of the group as a whole. However, one factor that probably strengthens such a bonding and forming the group identity is having a common goal and also understanding the motivations of the group members for wanting to achieve that goal. For instance, while some students may join a course to learn a new topic, some others might simply be there to get some credits and fulfill some criteria as their ultimate goal. These various and different types of motivations that students may have can affect how they behave as part of the group and put value on group activities. From this perspective, the comparison with such TV series is interesting because often in movies we see members of gangs that have different motivations in joining a gang and participating in different operations.

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