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Learn How People Learn

A fractious 2 years old child was persistently fiddling with the ashtray attached to the seat in front of him while travelling on a bus, despite numerous warnings from his mother that he would hurt himself. Inevitably, a few minutes later he jammed his fingers and hilled with pain and indignation. The exasperated mother merely replied, "well, that'll learn yer".

Grammar may not have been hear strong point, but in terms of learning theory she was right. Most of our valuable lessons in life have not been thought; they were discovered by experience. There is a difference between teaching and learning, and the latter does not always follow from the former. Adults learn more effectively when they are in control of the pace and method of learning. They like to see the practical applications while they learn, and they value their own experience, which they want to be able to apply to learning.

Our lives are full of experiences from which we can learn to handle the next situation better. Think for a moment about the variety of experiences you had at work yesterday and identify something you learned from one of them.

We also learn from other people's experience, not just by watching them at work, seeing how the boss runs a difficult meeting or approaches a crisis, but by listening to others talking about their experience. As much learning goes on in the bar after a training course as takes place in the classroom.

If it was just as easy as that, there would be no problem. But experience itself is not enough. It is how we use it that determines whether or not we learn anything, and a lot of people don't. Simply living through experiences shows no more than an ability to survive, In some organizations that may be an achievement in itself, but it does not necessarily lead to development and improved performance.

To start with, you can help your subordinates to learn more from their experience by:
To be really effective, staff development must keep posing and answering the question, what are we all here for?

Resources: Decision Preference Analysis (DPA) was developed by J.C. Keble and R.E. Hicks of Queensland University, Australia, and the diagnostic questionnaire is published in Australia by NIS Associates Pty Ltd, but further information can be obtained in the UK from the International management Centre for Buckingham, Castle Street, Buckingham, MK18 1BS, which also runs courses on how to interpret and use DPA in team building.***