We know about how people learn – auditory, visual, kinesthetically. But what about those things we can’t know – like people’s attitude, or how our brain perceives messages. This post comes about because of my reaction to a specific teaching style I experienced lately.
Over the years, I have been exposed to ‘learning games’, the kind where you throw two dice and have to guess the total. The leader knows the rules and you have to figure them out based on what you guess is the total. The leader says yes or no to each guess until you figure out the ‘trick’. Until a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been able to skirt around being the person doing the guessing, but finally got approached one evening at StarEast to be an active participant. I tried to decline several times, but the leader insisted and finally asked if I considered myself a tester and issued the challenge. Looking back, I knew I always avoided the games, but didn’t realize how strong my reaction would be. I actually felt myself have a physical reaction to the invitation. I became very agitated, and finally mumbled something about how I didn’t want to because of ‘childhood issues’ with games of these sorts. I then ran away feeling very stupid and joined another group of people.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching since that evening, and what I have come to realize, is that I enjoy puzzles of the variety I can work out such as logic problems, Suduko, etc., but really don’t like the variety of puzzles that have ‘tricks’ to them. My brain doesn’t work that way, and there are reasons why those types of puzzles upset me – I won’t go into details.
So, what does this have to do with learning? Well, I know I’m mainly an auditory learner so I listen. People who work with me, often think I’m visual because I use a whiteboard or draw in the air. I do that because it helps me explain an idea I’m trying to get across, or my concerns. It is articulating the problem that helps me to reinforce the ideas in my brain. I’m also a people person. Most problems are people problems, and I like to solve issues by talking and listening. I guess that is why I usually have jobs that are not purely testing, but involve coaching or working with teams to adapt new processes.
But, given all that, I also recognize I have blind spots that may prevent me from learning. Jerry Weinberg, through his PSL (Problem Solving Leadership) course, defines problem-solving leadership as the ability to enhance the environment so that everyone is empowered to contribute creatively to solving the problem. As a leader, that means I need to recognize that other people many have similar blind spots and learn to recognize them. When I am in a teacher role, I need to understand that people may not be taking in the message if they don’t like the delivery format. I need to open my mind to the possibilities and observe the feedback I am receiving from participants.
How many of us teachers / trainers have learned this skill? Or even recognize that it is a skill to learn.