Early in a client’s development, one important issue always comes up. If the client doesn’t bring it up, I do. It’s this: how does he or she go about learning and what are the best ways for them? A few talk about learning styles—the notion that each person has a particular way he or she learns best, whether eye-oriented, print-oriented or ear-oriented. This notion has been around and quite popular for a long time. It’s also been thoroughly debunked by research.
But there are three important, very solid “learning style” lessons about the way we learn.
Yep, all of the above overlap.
Seven (7) questions
Another more commonsensical way to learn is to ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you learn better through trial-and-error experiments or by following detailed instructions?
2. Do you learn better through working with others and engaging in give-and-take, or do you learn better when you are left alone with a problem?
3. Do you learn better when you hear explanations from a person or when you read explanations that are written out?
4. Do you learn better when you start with the “big picture” of the whole process or when you start with the step-by-step procedures?
5. Do you learn better when you are allowed to adapt the outcome to your own distinctive style of doing things or when there is one clear “right way” to follow?
6. Do you learn better when you are turned on by a flash of insight or when you work methodically, one piece at a time?
7. Do you learn better in organized evens like training and development courses, or in the job situation?
In one sense, these are trick questions? Rather than choosing one alternative from each of the seven questions, you may find that “it all depends.” Depending on the environment or context, any one or more of the 14 options will work. Whatever. Now you’ve got a lot of ways to think about learning.
But one of the most productive ways of learning is to think about the last new subject that you learned a lot about? What led to that learning? What did you do to learn what you needed or wanted to know? Can you use this same process for learning your latest need?
Flickr photo: Sean Drilinger