Learning is not something we’re typically taught. Looking back to school – me being a high school failure – and then university, I can’t recall a lesson or a lecture that addressed this. It so happens that I now know how learning occurs through several different lenses. That said, I’ve asked colleagues, family and friends too. Apart from trained teachers, the answer was “no.” It seems that it’s something we’re just expected to do.
Why is it important that we understand how to learn?
The truth is that we as individuals and often in organisations are often not very good at it. If we were, we wouldn’t see so many individuals struggling with life or work. We wouldn’t have as many organisational failures as we do. We wouldn’t have so many organisations facing the ‘big 6’ challenges: inefficiency, ineffectiveness, disengaged employees, failed change projects, struggling to retain talent, and transactional leadership (aka management).
Through one lens, learning is a balancing act between thinking (cognition), being (living in our environment) and doing (behaviour).
Thinking builds on our character strengths, mental toughness, learning preferences, learning style, knowledge, expectations and attitudes. We use thinking to make sense of experiences we haveor see in being in our environment.
In being, we are affected by human, organizational, technological, regulatory infrastructural and preparedness (being ready to act) factors. We hold a profile in the communities we lvie and work in.
In doing, we practice skills and exercise self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to succeed). Our actions influence our communities. Our communities influence our actions.
Our behaviours in doing direct our future thinking. Our present behaviours are directed by thought.
What we develop at the centre of thinking-being-doingis our own set of operating rules, known as heuristics. Whenever we watch, listen, read (or write) or experience something, we subconsciously and consciously, change our own unique operating rules.
Learning is rather like the process of ‘centring’ in meditation. It’s about gathering energies scattered among thinking, being and doing (cognition, environment and behaviour) and focusing. The focus is what changes our operating rules.The changes are learning.
So, if we want to enjoy more success as learners, we need to better understand the components of how we think. We need to look at the environments that we live and work in. And, we need to consider our skills and self-belief.