I've learned a lot about learning recently. I talk about and think about learning a lot, but I experienced it in a new way this month.
I was introduced to an article in a recent professional development session that looked at the neuroscience behind how people adapt to change, or learn. So much of our experience is
driven by our expectations and attitudes. In order to shift these expectations and attitudes, we need to experience a moment of insight, an awakening of something that we hadn't seen or pieces that we hadn't connected previously. The article states, "For insights to be useful, they need to be generated from within, not given to individuals as conclusions." Is it really that simple? I had to find out.
The Adult Basic Literacy (ABL) team had a professional development session the other weekend and decided to try this out. We prepared a session of "just" thinking, in small groups and corporately. We had no specific learning objective, nor did we have a new tool or technique to teach. We asked the participants to explore questions of identity and values and behaviors-who we are as ABL tutors, why we do what we do, and how we do it.
And here was my insight -- this kind of learning takes great faith on the part of the facilitators! Before the event, I struggled with questions of who should be in groups together, how to help them come to insights, and what to do about people who would leave frustrated about the lack of teaching and new material. The insight is TRUST. Trust that people will engage, whomever they sit with. Trust the people to go through the process in the ways they need to. Trust that the insights WILL happen and they will be exactly what each person needed.
Did they all have the same insight? No. But they all had at least one. They reconnected with their work in new ways. They shared practices and behaviors that some use easily and others had forgotten about. No one left feeling frustrated. Most felt it was one of the best learning sessions they've attended. And all I had to do was let go.
Trust the learners. Trust the process. Trust the insights.