I very recently attended a Learning Loop event delivered by Krystyna Gadd (I’d highly recommend it) and it’s really made me think about something in particular…
What’s different about how we learn as adults compared to when we were nippers? Is there anything different?
I’ve pondered this for years. And particularly so after observing a family member’s experience of taking on a Higher Education course.This family member (let’s call her Audrey to protect the innocent), at the time was taking on the daunting mission of doing a degree level course to further her career, as well as holding down a very demanding full time role and running a household with accompanying kids and other trimmings.
Now Audrey, I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, isn’t your naturally academic type. I say this with all due respect, as I am also not the type to take to that ‘study’ thing easily. This doesn’t mean we’re not good at it, but perhaps we’re both more inclined to learn from experience and real life. And therein lies the point. Which we’ll come back to in a mo…..
Back to Audrey’s experience. She’s at University doing all the expected stuff; attending lectures, writing assignments, reading books, endlessly regurgitating references, quotes, theories, models… All pretty one-dimensional if you ask me. Then to add to this ‘flat’ way of studying, there seemed to be little in the way of learning support. On asking a tutor to clarify an element on a task, the response she got was in the realms of, “Well if you don’t know the answer to that yourself, then you shouldn’t be here”.
I was suitably outraged; raving on about how a learning/teaching professional should know better. How the fact that the learners are adults shouldn’t mean that their experience shouldn’t be enjoyable and multi-faceted. I found it very hard to swallow.
So ever since, it’s made me think; Why don’t we apply the same principles with adult learning as we do with children’s learning? Do our brains really change so much that we suddenly become more comfortable with theory and reading and tell, tell, tell as opposed to playing, testing, multi-sensory experiencing?
The answer, it seems, is both yes and no. Cue, Krys’s Learning Loop……Enter Andragogy and Pedagogy. No, these are not characters in Welsh mythology. Simply put, Andragogy is about the principles of adult learning and Pedagogy is about kids’ learning.There IS a difference between how we learn as adults versus kids.
Here’s very briefly why(from Malcolm Knowles Andragogy)
- Adults are more self-directed and self-evaluating and also able to assess progress or learning gaps
- As we age, we naturally acquire experience which we tap into as a resource when learning
- Adults learn in context of what’s real to them and rationalise or judge the learning based on that reality
We encourage children to play in order to learn. Isn’t there something in that when we consider adult learning?I’m not saying we all need to start kicking around in sandpits, getting play-doh in our hair or raiding the dressing up box (although that all sounds pretty fun to me). For me, this is exactly where Accelerated Learning comes in. Done well, it gives us the opportunity to enrich the learning experience. To test and play around with things. To put them in context of our reality. To hear, see and feel the learning.
One of the 5 Secrets that Krystyna reveals in her Learning Loop is to be a FACILITATOR as opposed to a traditional TRAINER. For me this really resonates. Facilitating learning is very different from being someone who’s just imparting knowledge. It’s about providing an interactive, brain-friendly, varied environment where people are able discover and create learning. I’ve always seen my role as giving people the best, most appealing opportunity possible to learn and stretch themselves. That means learners can then choose how much they’d like to put in, and therefore gain from the experience.
And that is exactly why Accelerated Learning is so effective. It seeks to make the experience valuable, high impact and lasting. It enables us to create the learning for ourselves in a way that MEANS something to us and that we can APPLY.
I have great pleasure to introduce the lovely Kirsty Lewis of the School of Facilitation as a guest blogger. She is an expert in facilitation and so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on what it means to be a facilitator rather than a trainer (the second of the 5 secrets of accelerated learning)
What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?
This was the questions posed to me by Krystyna Gadd earlier this week and it got me thinking, is there a difference? What is it? What are the different skills, behaviours even beliefs that the two roles have?
Here are some simple definitions:
A trainer =’a person who trains a person or an animal’
A facilitator = ‘a person who makes an action or process easier or easy’
Trainers often have more knowledge than the learner, have a pre-prepared agenda, hold a clear path to be followed, use exercises to enable the learners to connect with the content and grow their knowledge. There may be a test to check understanding
A facilitator is not a content or knowledge expert, they hold the space for the group to evolve and grow through a topic or question they are examining. A facilitator will know how to move a group through the decision-making processes, will enable problem solving and intervene when appropriate.
A quote I found suggests:
“A trainer brings the participants from unknown to known. A facilitator brings the participants from known to unknown.”
This resonated for me as there are times I am in training mode (when running coaching and sales workshops) and other times I am holding a space for a group to discover something new (at the SOF gatherings). Is there a space and place when we have both hats and they are interchangeable? In this day and age of learning, creating motivating and engaging events I believe there is a place for both capabilities.
I noticed I shifted inside when I started to facilitate. I learnt to trust the process I had designed. I listened to my intuition, the signals I received from the energy in the room to move the group. One of my biggest surprises was that I had to hold the outcomes lightly. No longer could I grasp these tightly in my hand and say this is what will happen. I have learnt to craft the sessions outcomes, use them as a guide and then let them go to hover in the space as the facilitated session unfolds.
Here are my thoughts about some of the skills, behaviours and beliefs for a facilitator:
- Creating a container that is safe, enables people to express their ideas and opinions, learn
- Fantastic questioning skills to create engagement and probe understanding
- Listen to what is and isn’t said
- Sense into the energy of the group to adjust, move or continue
- Innately understand people ie EQ
- Decent flipchart creations!
Behaviours & Beliefs
- Open and curious to what is
- A deep belief in what they do
- A passion for their role in the room
I think there are common skills, behaviours and beliefs that both roles share. If you are starting to shift your way of working and become more facilitative maybe think about what you already do as a trainer think about how you can transfer these into the new setting of facilitation.
The 2nd of my 5 secrets of accelerated learning – double click to see more detail
It is such a pleasure to have Lucy Hayward, one of our associates as a guest blogger again. She is an expert in a number of areas, but has been doing some work in Performance Management recently so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on the subject. Of course she had to mention pants!!
Classroom Training is PANTS!!! (Well not always, but sometimes.)
Hang on a minute, before I talk myself out of a job – please let me explain…..
Recently I’ve been facilitating some workshops on Performance Management. The workshops look at the whole process from recruitment through to conducting formal reviews and uses drama based learning to bring it to life. Lots of fun to facilitate and very informative for the managers involved!
Once we’ve worked through setting clear and measurable objectives and get to the section about “Supporting Performance and Development”. The thing that continues to surprise me, is that no matter how experienced or forward thinking the managers are. They are still relying on scheduled classroom training as the go-to for all learning and development requests from their staff.
But what happens when this “one size fits all” approach of prescribing training doesn’t work or what if there’s just no budget for classroom training?
From listening to the manager’s responses, this usually means their teams don’t receive the development they require. Staff engagement and morale take a bit of a dive, their individual performance dives with it and the overall department ends up at risk of not hitting target!
Granted, a lot of this is due to the heavy workloads and tight time constraints that today’s managers are working to and sometimes it’s just down to a lack of knowledge as to what alternative solutions are on offer!
The GOOD NEWS is there are loads of GREAT ALTERNATIVE LEARNING SOLUTIONS!
In today’s world of Learning & Development we have so many options that can open-up the exciting world of learning to so many people.
One of the exercises we do as part of this workshop is to write down as many ways of learning you can think of in just 2 minutes…you would be amazed at how many there are!
Go on, have a go at doing it yourself…. How many did you get? 10? 20? 50?
Here’s a few to start you off (you’re very welcome). In the workshop, we get up to 90!!
- Lunch and Learns
- Buddying/Peer learning groups/job shadowing/secondments
- Writing Blogs/articles
- On-line learning/join a forum
- Reading/Self-study/Book clubs
- Ted Talks/Pod casts
- YouTube videos
- Delegating tasks & projects
- Action Learning Sets
How many of these do managers know about and how many do they make available to their staff on a regular basis?
So, the question I want to ask you all is…
When it comes to Performance Management and getting the best out of your teams is the traditional classroom offering always the answer to development requests?
Sometimes Yes, absolutely it is… I’m a facilitator who passionately believes in the benefits of trainer led workshops. I use accelerated learning techniques to ensure they’re linked directly to the organisational needs, they’re results focused and enjoyable for the individual learners. I love my job and the feedback I receive from individuals and organisations lets me know I’m doing it well!
But as managers, you can take control and explore the other (sometimes more cost effective) options. Try creating a learning culture within your teams and encouraging your staff to book an hour out of their day to study! Allowing your teams to access learning materials online so they can take ownership and responsibility for their own learning and development. Empowerment is the key!
Who knows it could take off and spread across the whole organisation…