June 2, 2013
One of the most important abilities of a Heartfelt Leader is to stimulate learning – for his team and for himself.
Why is this so important?
In fast changing times like ours it is inevitable to go with the flow of change, if you want to live a fulfilled and stress free life. The faster one can learn the newly demanded skills, the better he can stay on top of what’s happening to and around him. To stay ahead of the mass gives you a great view on all the opportunities laying ahead of you whilst swimming in the crowd limits your view to the near neighborhood.
The only way to stay ahead is to learn and grow constantly. Once lifelong learning has become your second nature, change can no longer bother you. It may irritate you from time to time and sometimes the learning curve is much steeper than you would like, but overall you get along very well and you are happy doing so.
Why is stimulating learning so difficult?
The answer is simple: We are not used to do it. Since our early childhood learning is connoted with disappointment and sometimes even blame. The way the traditional school system evaluates children in their learning process is by telling them what’s wrong. I remember it like it was yesterday, when I got back my first essay from my teacher. I was so excited to see how she liked my story and I was eager to tell her that there’s much more to add to it. But what happened was not what I expected. I got back my notebook and all I saw was three red marks and the grading. Although the grade was very good my whole attention was put on my mistakes. It did not say: Congratulations, you spelled 297 words correctly, what an achievement! Instead, I was left alone with my mistakes and I had to make sense of it by myself.
Let me be clear, I am really grateful for all the knowledge I have been provided and all the great learnings I could make in school. But some fifty years later I know, that I had to do it the hard way. It was always up to me to find new motivation and energy to learn and I know that it was much easier for me than for others because good results came easy to me and the competence-confidence-loop turned to my favor. Too many brilliant minds I have seen on my way, who have given up on themselves and settled with a lower education or job – totally unnecessary!
Just by conditioning his students that effort is progress, a teacher has an unbelievable impact on their learning outcome. By acknowledging their efforts and celebrating all successes with them a teacher can turn a slow learner into a highly motivated rocket. By rewarding the behavior he wants to see more of, a teacher lays the foundation in his students so that they can take more risks and challenges .
Teach like the brain likes it
Teaching methods like quantum teaching and accelerated learning allow leaders to educate their team members in a way that is fun and inspiring. By understanding how our brain is operating teachers can achieve much better results in a much shorter period of time, and the best is, that people like and want to learn more. This means that people also like to practice, because it gives these good feelings back they had when they were learning the stuff. And who does not want to have good feelings?
If emotions are high, intelligence is low.
Emotions play a much bigger role in our lives than we know and admit. Emotions are the switch point to either great or disastrous results. Once an emotion gets triggered an automatic program starts to run, letting you little or no possibility to control your reaction. Thanks to today’s brain science we know exactly what is happening and how we can correct it. I will write about this in another post. But rest assured, if you freak out if your spouse pushes a certain button in you, you are in good company. In such moments the rational thinking, which takes place in the prefrontal cortex, is paused and the amygdala, this is where emotions are located, takes over. In such an undesired moment you either fight, flee or freeze.
How can you start teaching?
“Curiosity is the drive for all intellectual advancements”, George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University proposed in the classic 1994 paper, “The Psychology of Curiosity”. Curiosity arises, Loewenstein wrote, “when attention becomes focused on a gap in one’s knowledge. The curious individual is motivated to obtain the missing information to reduce or eliminate the feeling of deprivation.”
The easiest way to stimulate learning is to ask an opening question. And please, give yourself time to come up with a great question. Often we are so eager to get the right answer that we do not devote sufficient time to come up with a valuable question. Remember, it is the question that stimulates curiosity in others.
As a teacher you have to be interested and not interesting.
How can you instill the hunger for learning?
Be aware that no one is interested in something he knows nothing about. So if you want to stimulate learning in your team you have to do the seeding first. Give them some interesting information they can think about and make sure that you are incomplete when giving the information. Curiosity increases with knowledge. The more people know about something the more they want to learn.
Another method to increase curiosity and to stimulate learning is to create specific gaps. For example you can work with two groups, each of them having a part of the information needed, so that they can only be successful by collaborating and closing the gap.
The most important thing when teaching and learning is to have fun. People learn best when they are in an elevated mood and full of energy. Remember, as a teacher you can help your student to produce the energy they need for learning by engaging them in fun and rewarding activities. And never forget: Celebrate all wins!