If curiosity is the gateway to learning – the challenge then becomes “Now what?”
Anyone who is a regular reader knows that I stand on the edge of the world and proclaim to anyone who will listen that it is our responsibility to take ownership of our own learning. BE CURIOUS. As I envision massive armies of people stampeding over to Google to research the fallacy of what is “generational gaps” and “learning styles”, the question becomes, “Now what?”
Therein lies the next step of being a Learning Rebel. Challenging yourself to take the next step. A lot of what is discussed on this site is about breaking free from traditional confines, and for some of you this may be THE challenge. The issue is not necessarily about the courage to break free, (and we will talk about courage in the next post), it’s about challenging yourself. It’s nice, warm and comfy in that status-quo box and it can be cold and lonely when trying to “fight the good fight”. My goal today is to not only help push you out of the box but to leave the box behind for someone else to play with.
Recently I had to give a “presentation” on how to use an iPad. Now, I knew how to use an iPad, the challenge becomes how to teach others how to use an iPad. There are a couple of options you can take here.
1. You can put together a cohesive step by step PowerPoint working through the different steps of the iPads functionality and have the audience play along or
2. You can hook the thing up to a projector and have at it.
It doesn’t take Sheldon Cooper to figure out the option I took. Yes, I flew without a net. I had just a few slides that kept me on track by introducing different components; but otherwise a bunch of less than tech savvy people played on an iPad for the better part of 4 hours. Afterwards, one of the students came up and thanked me for not only displaying to them how easily the iPad functioned but then actually letting them discover on their own how easy it was. He was now far less intimidated by this new and expensive piece of equipment. WIN!
There was no set “learning objective”, no “test” at the end, and no official “script”. Just a logical outline for me, which included well defined and much practiced exercises. I can see some of you reaching for your antacids now. But THAT’s the challenge. I’m not going to lie and say it was an easy sell. IT wanted their fingers all over this course to explain all the “scary” security features. HR wanted everyone to sign off on a novel as a first step in the session. Challenge is about not stopping when it hurts, it’s about stopping when you’re done. The arguments coming from IT and HR was making my head hurt; but through negotiation and dancing a pretty mean fast-step, the session proceeded as I had hoped. Why? Because I did my research about “how to train technology” and it was abundantly clear, and studies revealed (along with my instincts) that the best way to teach tech, by far, was through immersive learning. So armed with this information, I formulated my challenge and marched forward.
I need a training course before I start face-booking – said no one EVER.
What I find when I challenge conventional thinking, it is that the person(s) behind the thinking don’t know any better. We are supposed to be – “Learning Professionals” remember? This leads directly back to The Curious Learner, you cannot challenge the conventional thinking if you have not done your homework. What happens next is we end up on the hamster wheel, we do not grow ourselves, we are not in the position to challenge conventional thinking therefore another year goes by with didactic lectures and uninspired, formulaic PowerPoint masquerading as e-learning. We have to do better.
There are people who say think BIG! I’m more than okay with BIG thinking. In this case, I’m asking you to start differently, by thinking differently. You can’t challenge status-quo if you’re still thinking status-quo. Start with different. I knew I didn’t want to spend time delivering a PowerPoint presentation to people in a “How to work your iPad” class. I could see my daughters group of twenty-something’s friends laughing their collective asses off at me. So the plan was to challenge what I knew the customer was going to want, and think differently. (Note: There are a number of studies that support the use of immersive learning – be curious and get on the Google machine!)
Challenge the conventional thinking, beginning with the end in mind.
There is a lot of truth in the saying, “first to learn, you must unlearn”. Conventional thinking, well…isn’t. It’s more like conventional regurgitation. Which is what we do when we settle for tribal knowledge as being absolute. Most people implicitly agree with conventional thinking because it gives one a false sense of security. If everyone else believes it, then it must be true.
1. You must create your own compelling reasons to change what you believe you already know. In the case of my own Learning Rebel journey, it was the simple question of: “There has GOT to be a better way.” – I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to find out and then I’m going to apply what I know.
2. Stop resisting new ideas and points of view that differ from yours, regardless of success. That old saying “We’ve always done it that way”? I’ve heard people use this saying to explain why a certain process is in place for both successful and unsuccessful applications. Be very aware: What is successful today is no guarantee for success tomorrow.
3. Know this: Challenging a mindset, even if it’s your own, is not easy. There is not a light-switch and no magic fairy dust. It is far easier to accept that the reason why students don’t complete pre-work is because they are Gen Y, and Gen Y’ers don’t like to read; rather than to change the fundamental mindset that your pre-work is tedious, boring and time consuming for everyone, regardless of generation.
Is it overly dramatic to say that the fate of your learning organization is in your hands? I don’t think so. Challenging the conventional thinking is everyone’s responsibility. We all should asking how we can do better. Write these questions in your daily planner, you should be asking these questions regularly, about everything and not just about L&D because you never when an opportunity will pop up where L&D may be a benefit.
- Why not?
- How can we do “that” differently toward a better result?
- Don’t you think there’s a better way to do “that”?
Given how often conventional thinking fails, it’s just crazy to me that anyone still pays attention to it. When was the last time you heard anything positive that started with “Conventional thinking indicates that…” I mean really?
Conventional thinking prevents creativity, flexibility and risk-taking, and real Learning Rebels enthusiastically break away and challenge it.