Set Your Mind To Keep Learning

Learning is a life – long and non – stop process. There is no right way, time and place for learning. It is something that keeps happening everywhere and every time. Being open to this idea will help us attract a lot of messages from the environment that is useful for us to thrive towards perfection and innovation.

As children we are always taught to keep trying to succeed by being given the example of a spider building its web and as we grow we come under the pressure of competition, scoring well in exams where we should be able to learn so much in a limited amount of time and end up learning only to pass an exam or to get a rank. After a point, young learners start associating learning with results that are restricted to scores, points and marks; after passing out of school, learning would be associated with getting selected in a job and to get promoted to next level – again connected with scores, points and performance.

Performance need not always be in a professional learning scenario. One can learn to perform as a good human being in general, a good person in the roles played in relationships (parents, daughters/sons, spouses, teachers, students, bosses etc.). Or why can’t learning be just to enhance knowledge about the world and all the wonderful things happening in it.

I have come across people who always learning like it’s their passion. One of them was my grandfather, who we call called ‘the walking and talking encyclopaedia of the family’ always kept himself active and busy reading. He was well equipped with knowledge in any field, be it science, literature, medicine, spirituality, mythology etc, starting from their history to current trends. When we had any doubt about anything, he would be the first option to approach to gain some information… yes even before Google. He would read so passionately and suggests books for us as well to read.

On the other-hand I have also come across people who look at learning and take suggestions defensively. I have had teachers who perceived our doubts and questions as an offense and would ask us why we are ‘testing their knowledge’. The first step to being open to learning (self – learning and suggestions from others) is to accept that we all are humans and are not perfect. One irrespective of their qualification and professional position would not have full command over their areas without constant learning, updating and preparation.

Updating oneself with knowledge would always not mean learning something which is totally new, it could also be updating the advancement and new versions/editions of concepts already known. Every theory, technique, methodology, astatic presentably, etc. evolve with growing generation and technology. Keeping in touch with these advancements has become a part of being competent to evolve and develop in both personal and professional life.

We have so much to learn from the environment around. For instance, when we are with animals and babies – we can learn so many things such as: how to love unconditionally; to observe everything around and to learn from that observation; to be happy and excited with the littlest things around and most importantly enjoy every moment and grow, evolve and develop.

So, let’s all keep our minds and all our senses open to opportunities to learn to be a better people both personality and professionally and happy learning 😊

Innovate your work

In today’s work scenario, one’s role demands a lot of creativity and innovation irrespective of their field of work. One can make a good name and climb a ladder in their profession based on how original and ‘out of the box’ they think in their work. Many of us find it challenging to keep up to the expectation although there are ways where one can follow to make it easy to maintain innovation.

One of the ways is to trust one’s own ideas and put them down which can be later organised and worked upon based on the feasibility and affordability. It would be best for one to not worry about the result and feel free to think. A better way of planning to execute one’s ideas is to think, “I can get this done, if… (criteria)” rather than thinking “I can’t get this done because… (conditions)”.

Another way is to not stress oneself and to love the work one does. Once there is love and passion for the work and no pressure, there is more openness to think creatively and innovate new ideas that would be helpful for the self, organisation and the society.

I, personally being in a field which requires a lot of creativity, know how important it is to trust one’s own ideas. Keeping one’s ears and eyes open to observe and listen to get more ideas could work as an opportunity to create something that can practically contribute. Reading about innovative practices and work happening in the world can also work as a motivation for one to create. This also gives an idea to the creator/ learner about the latest trends that need innovation and inspire one to contribute in the same.

There are quite a few organisations (such as the one where I work), where every original work, irrespective of being small or big is appreciated and considered as a contribution towards development of self as well as the organisation. It is always the best to make use of such encouraging work environment and find ways to freely think, create and contribute.

“When one Teaches, Two Learn”

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‘When one teaches, two learn’, is an inspirational quote stated by Robert Heinlein. This quote means that when a person teaches someone it’s not only the student but also the teacher who learns.

According to my experience and understanding, teaching and learning go hand in hand and teaching is a process of learning. E.g. – every time a student asks a question related to the concept, the teacher gets to think in a different direction to clarify the quarries and hence learns.

Having experienced as a soft skills and language trainer in a renowned University in Bangalore, there have been so many instances where I learnt new ways to impart knowledge in classroom. I had to research a lot of ways to bring in more interest in the normally dry topics such as grammar. Every session was a new experience where I learnt what actually grabbed the attention of students and what didn’t.

I know much more now than when I started my career as I have learnt so much in the classroom as a teacher/ trainer.

APPLICATION OF THE STATEMENT IN CLASSROOM:

On talking to other teachers and from my own experience I came up with a few points that I would like to share in this article. The following points talk about the ways one can apply the statement “when one teaches, two learn” in a classroom to make learning more fun and effective:

  • Include group discussion and role plays in the class where the students come up with ways to present their understanding of the concepts. In this case, the class, including the presenters learn the concept in an interesting way.
  • Give students the freedom to disagree to the concepts which not only gives opportunity for them to express but also gives the teacher and the other students an opportunity to open up to interpretations different from the standardized ones.
  • Use “teaching” as assignments and allot topics for the students to teach and conduct quizzes for the rest of the class. This would act as a positive motivation for the students to learn a concept going beyond their curriculum.

I would like to conclude saying, one can be a true teacher when they stop only talking/ preaching and start listening to students’ opinions that gives both the teacher and the students a platform to learn. Saying “I don’t know” or “I’ll let you know in the next class” would not take away credibility of teachers but put in more trust in the students about the teachers and their motivation to keep learning.

“Bloom’s Hierarchy” Vis – a – Vis “Maslow’s Hierarchy”

Bloom’s Taxonomy, the commonly applied theory of learning, which begins with the lower order of learning (Remembering and Understanding) and goes up to the highest order of Evaluating and Creating.

In the process of learning, motivation is one of the key factors that affects one’s learning. The more motivated one is, the higher level of learning is achieved. When it comes to motivation, Maslow’s Need Hierarchical Pyramid explains the levels of needs that every human works to satisfy. The theory is applied in understanding human motivation, needs and behavior, in the society by sociologists, at work place by management professionals, by advertisers to grab the attention of relevant audience and by psychologists and behavioral scientists.

Let us, as Academicians/ Trainers, analyze Bloom’s Hierarchy Pyramid in the perspective of Maslow’s Need Hierarchy. In both the hierarchies, one can reach the higher level only when one has the lower levels satisfied/accomplished. Refer to the linking diagram below.

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The first level in both the hierarchies is the basic/foundational need. As one needs basic food, shelter and clothing to grow to higher levels of need-satisfaction in life, an individual needs to remember what is taught to move to the higher levels of learning. This is the first level of need in the learning process.

The second level is the sense of security and stability. Considering how satisfying the needs of employment, good health and monetary needs gives one a sense of safety and security in life, having an ability to comprehend the information that we remember gives one a sense of security and stability in the process of learning. This is the second level of need in the learning process.

The third level is the sense of connection and passion. Just as one gets connected with one’s environment and takes responsibility and ownership of one’s roles in relationships, one feels similar connection while applying and analyzing the information and feels passionate about learning. This is the third level of need in the learning process.

The fourth level is the sense of achievement. In this level, one needs to have the motivation, self-confidence and a drive for achieving. In the same way to be able to evaluate knowledge/understanding, one needs to possess self-confidence and sense of achievement in the field of knowledge. This is the fourth level of need in the learning process.

The fifth level is spontaneity, creativity and morality. One is considered to have the highest level of motivation when one is awakened to one’s own inner strength, and takes spontaneous decisions. Similarly, to reach the highest level of learning and contribute new ideas to the area of knowledge, one needs to be creative, spontaneous and have awareness of one’s capabilities and strengths. This is the fifth level of need in the learning process.

Universities and workplaces can utilize this combination of hierarchical theories for good/ better performances and results.

*Published in MSRUAS Newsletter

Adult Learning and Its Application @ Workplace

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Albert Einstein said, “Learning is Experience, everything else is information”, and “I never teach my pupils, I only provide them conditions in which they can learn”. These statements help us understand the nature of adult learning-Experiential, voluntary and self-driven.

This article (based on interviews conducted with teachers and students) throws light on the psychology of adult learning, illustrating how adults learn through the usage of various techniques, which make learning effective and interesting. These techniques would also benefit supervisors at the workplace to train and guide young adults and motivate them to learn:

1)         Creative Learning Methods

These methods deal with innovativeness and originality in learning. Given below are some of the techniques teachers said they were using to make learning more effective.

A. Brainstorming and Group Discussions

Young adults love an interactive way of learning and learn better when they are in groups. Teachers stated that Group Discussions and Brainstorming activities help young adults in sharing their ideas and viewpoints on various topics.

Students too shared that they like to discuss concepts in groups and exchange ideas and examples related to certain topics and concepts. This would help them in the corporate setup where each young employee is given the opportunity to share their ideas about on-going work, and understand the scope of their task better. Brainstorming and Group Discussion activities could be arranged regularly in the form of team meetings as well.

Some young adults also mentioned that they learn and understand well when they debate with their peers on an issue or a problem that they are given to solve which can be used as one of the techniques to make training and learning at the workplace, more interactive

B. Assignments and Original Work

Teachers said that they encourage students to come up with original and innovative work to bring in ownership in the learning process. They mentioned that they like to give assignments which the students enjoy working on and learn without realizing that have learnt something. This way the learning will be long term and not just for a short term goal of writing an exam or in context of in the corporate setup, completing the current project. This method can be used in organizations to bring in ownership in the young employees towards their tasks and roles play in the team.

There are also managers who encourage their young employees to work on original ideas and help them publish the same in various journals.

C. Utilize Flow Charts And Mind Maps To Explain New Projects And Assignments.

Young adults show more interest and grasp better when simple visual representations like Flow Charts and Mind Maps are utilized. This simplifies complicated procedural concepts. In organizations when new projects/initiatives are introduced, these techniques make it simpler and more interesting for the young learners. It would not only help them get a grip on the nature and scope of their tasks but also give them more clarity on their roles in the current project

2)         Multi-sensory Methods

They are techniques where an individual uses more than one sense like eyes, ears and muscles to receive information from the environment and processes them to form a meaning. This information is used through our senses to understand, remembers, solve problems and get new ideas of what they have absorbed from their surroundings. This leads to very active and long term learning.

A. Encourage Participation And Proactive Behavior In All The Activities

Young adults love to be given the opportunity to learn more. They always want a platform or a forum where they can ask questions and get a chance to work on something innovative. On being asked about their preferences in active form of learning, some students mentioned that they love to ask questions till they are convinced and understand a particular problem or a concept. If they are given that space where they can ask more questions and participate, their urge to develop and grow in their area of interest will be kept motivated. This would enhance their work and career satisfaction too.

B. Audio Visual Techniques and Live Demonstrations

Young adults usually find learning more interesting when they watch videos and clips related to the concepts being applied in at work. Some videos (through YouTube or other mediums) that demonstrate or illustrate procedural tasks in a simplified way can be utilized to explain projects in a more interesting way. This will help in giving the employees a clearer picture of their job description.

Another observation is that the young adults love to experience the whole process being carried out by their supervisors which gives them confidence and motivation to perform and grow in their career. The young learners wish to be given the opportunity to evaluate their team members by observing their work and performance. This would enable them to learn where one can go wrong and get hands on experience in giving constructive feedback and also be open to receiving feedback.

3)         Semantic Methods

These methods and techniques of learning deal with giving a meaning to whatever one is learning. Some of the techniques that I came across as very common in the responses I got in the interview are:

A. Meeting On The Scope Of On-going Projects

Each young learner can be given pointers to come prepared to talk about in meetings. It is very important for any employee to keep in touch with the current issues and practices going on in their area of interest. Teachers said that they see to it that their students are up to date with the current trends.

This technique is used by many managers in organizations too.

B. Arrange For Guest Lectures/ Workshop Programs

Young adults like gathering information of how things work outside their organization. This helps them to be more open to learn the same concepts from different perspectives. Companies are already working on arranging regular training programs for their employees from external sources.

All the above techniques and methods would work well with any employee, keep them motivated and satisfied with their job and keep their minds open to learn. At the end of the day every trainer/teacher/professional dealing with adult learners should keep in mind this quote by Benjamin Franklin “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

*Published in Perfect Professional Magazine : Edition 11- ‘What’s your Learning Agenda?’ – Jan 2015, pg – 40