Curiosity is the gateway to learning.
I have spoken about the three “C’s” of being a Learning Rebel. Innate Curiosity, Challenge Conventional Thinking, Courage of Conviction.
To me it looks like this.
All three interlock, one for all and all for one, and all that good stuff. Lately my focus has been on curiosity. I’m stumped as to why, as an industry, we aren’t more curious about the world around us. I suppose it will take bigger brains that mine to figure out why people just accept what they are told or what they believe as final word, regardless of facts and data. Oh wait, someone has… “Why Do People Persist in Believing Things That Just Aren’t True” ~ From the New Yorker
Here is a telling conclusion from the above article: “The message can’t change unless the perceived consensus among figures we see as opinion and thought leaders changes first.” (Um, calling all ASTD leadership to the learning styles booth…but I digress)
My point here is about the need for curiosity. The curious in us would, to take Learning Styles as an example; find research, find data, read the whitepapers, and draw our own conclusions. However because VAK is in just about every “Train the Trainer” book out there, we take the collective word of authority. Tribal knowledge must be correct, and it’s easier to believe the talking points that actually read the story.
That being said, let me break down learning curiosity into two areas.
What are you reading now? What have you learned about “learning” lately? With whom are you having a robust conversation about learning? Example, just the other day, the beginning of debate surface between myself and a peer about role playing (I dislike them, he doesn’t). Those types of debates are good for the brain, it feeds the mind. Doctor heal thyself! Innovation in learning does not happen because we are satisfied with what is happening around us, it happens because of the exact opposite. Why? Should be the question on all our lips at the ready. Why do we do “it” this way? Why does “everyone” believe “that”? Why isn’t there a better way?
I am going to participate in Mike Taylors Learn Camp this summer. You know why? Because. Because, I’ll learn something new. In this camp, Mark Britz will be discussing “Why blogging is still important.” I’ll be paying attention. Even though I blog and understand the relevance – who can turn down an opportunity to hear from Mark Britz, I guarantee that I’ll pick up an idea or two, or be inspired in some way. That’s why.
Let’s put it this way – As trainers, we have planned sessions where the assigned pre-work includes reading of some sort. We then shake our collective heads in dismay when the students tell us they didn’t have the time to do the reading. Shame on them, don’t they know the reading was important to the course? Shame on us, if we have different expectations of the student than we do ourselves. If we don’t have time to “sharpen the saw“ how can expect people whose day to day doesn’t include daily development to “sharpen their saw”? Pot.Black.
During the last session I facilitated, which included L&D professionals, I asked the group about understanding the company financials. Embarrassingly only a smattering of hands went up. We want a seat at the table, but we don’t want to do the work that will get us there. YOU have to build the chair people. If you remember from CSI: Learning Needs Investigation, at any given time you should be able to answer the following questions about your business:
- What are the financial goals for your business this year?
- What are the key strategic thrusts of your organization?
- Where is your department to budget as of this point in the year?
- Is the sales team on task to meet their sales goals?
- What are the top initiatives of IT? HR? Marketing?
- Are top line revenues producing bottom-line results?
- What are the results of the last safety audit?
- What is the turnover percentage of the organization?
- What are the KPI’s of your department, where are you to meeting those KPI’s?
- Did you read last year’s annual report? Where you on the last company update call to stockholders? Would you be able to hold your own during a discussion about the business results?
If you can’t answer those basic business questions, then you need to put on your curious hat. Your company P&L tells story, it’s up to your to know how to read it and find the story. Don’t know how? That’s okay, that’s what curiosity is for, it means seeking out a person in the organization to mentor you, and help you to improve and learn.
Learning Rebels think for themselves, form opinion based on solid research and not as quoted above; dependent on the opinions of leadership. Where is the curious learner in you? The back of milk carton? Left behind in a childhood sandbox? Find your inner curiosity and have some fun with it!
My contribution to the curious learner is this Google Doc that has recorded reading suggestions by a number of great people. To date there are 30 books listed, if that doesn’t get your curiosity bubbling, I don’t know what will!
It is an open document, so please add to it. Let’s share! Let’s help each other grow and learn together and remember – Curiosity is the gateway to learning!