Sunday, September 18, 2011


At a psychology seminar the other day, I was interested to experience a number of different approaches to teaching and learning. It was interesting to be a delegate myself. Often, it is the other way round, and I am so busy training, I don't have a chance to see what it's like to be a training victim!

By the end of the day, I had noticed a number of things characteristic of good learning, and a few characteristic of problematic learning:

Features of excellent sessions were:

1. The trainer seemed to be in control from the first moment, inspiring confidence
2. The information was distilled into useful diagrams or anecdotes for easy digestion
3. Questions were welcomed, and answered attentively and intelligently

In contrast, in the problematic sessions, the trainer lacked sureness, simply repeated information from sources without restructuring, and avoided questioning.

However, the onus is not all on the trainer. A learner has a job to do, and I did list some features of good learners, in life as well as in academia:

1. Good learners are attentive throughout
2. Good learners choose their questions carefully, and participate actively
3. Good learners help other learners to learn

On the other hand, problematic learners seem to have, shall we say, attentional issues - always being distracted, Their activity isn't careful or guided, but is generalized, or focused on other things. And they were obsessed with themselves, without any sense of a group quest to learn.

I guess that's true in life too. When we're doing things, being confident, outward-looking and attentive goes a long way. And when we're learning or listening, it helps to be actively focused on the other person. So many times in recent months, I have to say, I wish I had been more attentive, and listened harder. It would have saved so many misunderstandings! Oh well, it's never too late to learn a lesson, and there's always tomorrow... :-)