A Novel Concept…..
I got in trouble with a training provider because my class ended early: an hour and half early. How, they wondered, could I teach all the concepts in that short of a time? I could and the concept is a novel one based on brain research that is coming out of the academic world.
The concept is accelerated learning: making key learning concepts into a meme. Meme is an advertising term and refers to something easily remembered, something sticky. For example, remember the Wendy’s commercial “Where’s the beef?” or Alka Seltzer’s “Plop, Plop, fizz fizz , oh, what a relief it is?”
What is so special about commercials is you remember them years after the original commercial is off the air…they are sticky…like the song fragment that buzzes around your head and won’t quit or the emotion a sound bite from a song evokes…a memory of a touch, sadness, of lost love…but I digress…..my training is quick to the point, short and sticky. It uses bunching of concepts into the rule of 90, 20, 8: the student can retain without understanding a maximum of 90 minutes, can retain with understanding for approximately 20 minutes and needs exercises to retain learning concepts every 8 minutes. My training is not quite there as I work with training providers but the courses I design approximate these rules…..and they work.
Now for a war story: a long time ago, in a land far, far. away…. I decided I wished to be the antithesis of what I had received in my training in classes. Not for me the instructor who droned, or told pointless war stories or went blow by blow over concepts that were as stimulating as a wart hog using sandpaper in an oasis.
Like the mind picture? I bet you won’t forget the analogy….and it sticks too…does it not? Pardon my mind games you don’t tell someone, you visualize it, you tie concepts to emotions! You tie learning points or bunch key concepts into colourful, visual metaphors they can understand and remember! You remember their attention spans; you change pace every 20 minutes and break every 90’ you practice every 8 minutes and you repeat the concepts in novel ways which drum them into the consciousness of your participants.
Let me elaborate on new brain research: the brain is actually three brains in one. The brain in a human has the thinking portion like a saddle which lies over the huge elephant portion of the brain (the animal brain). This is the emotional part that is tied into survival and this overlays the reptilian part of the brain at the base of the brain where your head touches your spine. The reptilian brain does the automatic pilot stuff: it regulates breathing, the heart beat things like that. The elephant part of the brain is built for survival: the fight or flight reflex, the strong visceral reactions: “ Yuck! I am not eating that (the emotions) I could just scream at how angry you make me wanting to eat that green, green sludge!
The rider on the human brain deals with logic…let’s call him Mr. Spock….it decides what is right or wrong and reasons through a response after the emotional response has faded or fights with the elephant brain for control. Sometimes of courses it wins… it takes over and you decide in a logical and cool fashion. However, more often or not you are locked into wanting something and one part of you is crying out….the steak, eat the steak ! I want it now….eat ! Eat!! The logical part argues: you are on a diet and you have absolutely no right to that thick, artery clogging steak: think of what it will do to your weight….the pounds…Ah, the struggle between logic and emotion!
Why do you think marketers want you to decide right away! Or, just this minute…decide now….Limited time offer…they want to shut down logic and have you buy on emotion as reason takes time to kick in… to be heard. Emotion is very powerful and very rapid. Accelerated learning ties in emotions, logic, and repetition into one package…it meets the needs of all the brain’s make-up and creates something that is remembered : logic for the human part of the brain, emotions for the animal/elephant part of the brain, and repetition for the reptilian or auto pilot portion of the brain. It’s a capsule easily dissolved into the fabric of learning in the mind!
As well, in accelerated learning I appeal to as many senses as I can. I tie in movement with learning concepts…..visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic learning all rolled into one. (kinaesthetic learning is doing or practicing the concepts in as real a life manner as possible). I vary my voice, have videos, power-point, pictures, have students draw concepts!
People move in my class: we stretch, we look at things, we practice self directed learning where the exercises moves people to reason or to problem solve an outcome. We have fun…we learn in novel ways! But I digress……
Learning is a concept like communication…it is amazing that it happens at all….a well designed course is essential, as is familiarity and practice with the content. You must be prepared to enjoy the process: every class is different due to the students…you cannot be on autopilot with this learning process. Personally, it is most rewarding and I believe my students do as well or better than students taught in the traditional way. I am even testing it….in my auditing class students who conduct an audit after taking my learning versus the blow by blow traditional method…..we will see whether there is a difference…whether the return on investment can be quantified in better outcomes……..whether the research works in my context….in my classroom with my students. It is most scintillating and exciting to be facilitating in these times!
And as to ending early…since when is time a unit of value? Value is ensuring that in a given moment of time…..a participant takes away a concept they can apply in their life and make a difference to their learning outcomes….they get it! RESULTS are what matter…….accelerate that!