As part of a curated blog carnival ahead of this year's CIPD L&D Show, Helen Amery (Wild Fig Solutions) issued a challenge to post a blog on the concept of 'how we make every day a learning day.' Challenge accepted.
I recently encountered Dan Siegel and David Rock's concept of the Healthy Mind Platter : a set of daily mental activities which make up the full set of psychological minerals that your brain needs to function at its best. A balanced diet of ingredients that help build wellness.
It left me wondering whether there could be a similar concept for learning - a Healthy Learning Platter. A universal set of learning activities which, if fulfilled, allow for unstoppable learning to flourish, every day. In this case, encapsulated in a series of 'vitamin c' nutrients:
Although a piece of learning might start at any point on the HLP, it could be argued that a natural process for learning begins with curiosity, whether that be intrinsic curiosity, or that which has been created by a situation/facilitator. Driven by curiosity, our motivation to discover something new is a powerful force for continual learning.
Curiosity demands content, in whatever form. Books, magazines, workshops, podcasts, videos, social media, websites, conferences, and more. Thankfully, we live an a world where there is an abundance of content- the challenge is sourcing the right content, at the right time, in a form that works best for the learner.
Next comes collaboration. In some learning journeys, this 'c' is skipped, often to the detriment of the learning. At the last #learnconnectdo event, I was fortunate to participate in Nancy Kline's Thinking Environment - a fantastic team facilitation process with the aim of encouraging equal collaboration, to boost the quality of thinking. This process helps crystallise not only the individual questions, but also the content generated from the whole group. Collaboration needn't be a facilitated process - it might simply be a 5-minute conversation with a trusted member of your personal learning network.
Eventually, all of this content will require curation. This allows for refinement of ideas, distillation of important themes, and critical evaluation to be applied. Curation also allows for the freeing-up of cognitive load that might otherwise be used trying to remember a great piece of content. Good curators are able to capture useful content and store it in a way that's ready to be located when needed.
For some, the healthy learning platter stops here. My typical Twitter learning cycle is one such example: starting with a curious need to see what is new, heading to Twitter to search for the appropriate content, perhaps engaging with contacts in the process, and ending with a tweet/retweet to share what has been discovered.
But what about commitment? What am I going to do differently with this piece of learning? What is my level of commitment to take this forward? Perhaps it's a commitment to share with others, perhaps a specific action that can applied, measured and later evaluated.
Again, some learning falls flat here. Commitment often occurs in the moment, but real life then takes over and no follow-through takes place. Focusing on our conduct after setting goals allows us to deliver on the promises we've made to ourselves and others, ensuring that we actively do something different as the result of new learning.
Contemplation is an often-underestimated ingredient for effective everyday learning. Space to let learning perculate, considering and reflecting about the application of new knowledge. Itself a way of generating curiosity, contemplation can be a way of recharging the entire cycle and generating new-found interest.
Occasionally in the learning journey, our learning will meet a challenge. New ideas, opinions and information allow for fresh thinking to occur, assumptions to be revealed and existing knowledge to be confronted, kick-starting a new learning journey.
There we have it. 8 essential vitamins for everyday learning vitality. Where do you like to spend time? Where do you struggle? What is the impact on your business when focusing your energy on particular areas?
Consider this a working draft (as any good learning journey should be)! I'd welcome any/all feedback, as well as suggestions about any additional 'vitamins' that might be included.
In the meantime - may your learning platter always be healthy!