One of the defining features of our species is our ability to codify and pass information on to the next generations. We are all teachers as well as learners. The social aspect of learning is part of our genetic makeup. Researchers recently noticed that a two week old baby recognizes body language indicating that an adult is poised to teach or show her something. In the presence of this “learning stance,” the baby, and people in general, naturally refocus their attention in anticipation of being shown something new or important.
There is probably no day when you don’t teach someone at work, at home, on the athletic court, giving instructions on the street. Every day you provide information to, coach, mentor, guide, support other people. The problem is that some of this help may not be what the other wants or needs, or it may be in a form that isn’t helpful (e.g., you start by telling rather than listening). And, the help you provide may not be as skilled as it could be – may not draw on what scientists and learning professionals know about how to help others learn. Again, the problem for most of us is that we use 19th Century helping methods in 21st Century learning situations.
You are part of a vast learning web that contains all of humanity. When you upgrade your learning mindset, knowledge and skills, you develop the knowledge and master the tools to help others learn and become better learners.
You may have heard of the 70/20/10 model of learning*. It is well known in the human resource development field: 70% or so of learning is managed by the learner, about 20% is shaped by people who are not professional helpers (think most parents, work colleagues, even managers), and the rest by professional teachers, learning facilitators and designers, online direction, and even psycho-therapists!
The people in that 20% category (including you, if you are not a learning scientist, coach or teacher) are often well-intentioned and have knowledge and skills to share. But they may talk when they should listen, may be out of sync with the learner’s needs, and can’t draw from a broad repertoire of practical learning and change techniques and neuroscience insights.
Developing your own learning capabilities has a knock-on effect: you are better able to help others – your partner, children, grandkids, friends, people at work, people you play sports with, and more.
*Based on research by Alan Tough and reported in The Adults Learning Projects.
Next up: Reason #5 (of 5) to upgrade yourself as a learner: To evolve yourself and be the most you can be in life
The SMARTInside App has tips and tools you can use to “help others learn”