Friday, November 21, 2008

RICK VON FELDT: Teaching & Learning

ONE: People learn in different ways. It's now commonly A common terminology for these learning styles has been developed since some time ago. And thus, we are thought to be visual, kinesthetic, or auditory. Each of these, having its particularities. What's your learning style? What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?

This particular “three tier” diagram of learning styles is not my favorite. It is too simplistic. Instead, I like a few other methodologies – but in general, I do believe that we can “learn better” by knowing our natural and developed traits.

As an example, this same methodology suggests that we must first know our “primary types of intelligence.” Once we know this – they are our strengths – and indicate how we best learn.

I took a 35-question (free survey) at ACCELERATED LEARNING.

It told me that I am strong in intra-personal, linguistic and visual intelligences. Therefore, if I want to accelerate my learning, I should, for example, have conversations with people, focus on the use of words and speaking and use diagrams.

Indeed, I have known this about myself. I like visual representations. I like to have dialogue either in written or in verbal ways as this “helps me learn.” I know that I am not good at taking a 500 page book, sitting down and reading it and learning a lot from that method. This shows up in my “naturalistic” strength – or lack of.

TWO: What's the most useful thing you have learn that can be applied both, to your personal and to your professional life?

I can’t share it all, because one day, it might be what my book is all about! (I wonder how many people have a fleeting thought of authoring a book on “all that I learned in life…”) Here are a few things that come to mind:
1. IT USUALLY WON’T FEEL AS BAD in the future – as it does today. Bad things happen. They can feel so bad in the moment. But after living through them – I am always amazed at how the bad feeling does eventually go away. It is hard to trust that future promise that everything “feels better with time.”
2. WE LEARN THE MOST from DIFFICULT THINGS. Today, I had a lunch with a friend who told me she was helping another friend get through bad times. She thought out loud about what she could do to help take away those problems. But my advise to her is that it is better NOT to take away the bad thing – but instead to help with skills, advice and support to help to deal with and learn from the problem. Our best learnings in life always come because of the hard things. And as a person who works in leadership development, I would go even farther by saying that those individuals who have gone through some of the most difficult things might actually be the stronger of leaders.

3. KNOW THYSELF. We start out in life and hard dealt a hand of cards. We grow up – and our parents and family change a few of those cards. But that is our hand. The goal for the rest of our life is to know everyone of those cards – what they mean, why we have them, to trade a few out – and then do our very best to play those cards in the best way possible. Few people take time to honestly their own hand of cards.

THREE: Good learners aren't always good teachers. I have the feeling that everyone in this group has become a pretty good teacher, some way or another. Can you share what's been the most useful thing you have ever taught? (To whom? Why?)

Anyone who knows me knows that I value the QUESTION more than the answer. I ask lots of questions. And I hope that I role model the value of asking questions over giving answers. It comes easy for me. But for many others, it is very difficult. Is it my curiosity? A skill? A little of each? The question to self also leads to self knowledge and evaluation. I hope people have learned that from me.

FOUR: This one question I got it from an interview to Mr. Obama I saw in ESPN a couple days ago. What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten? Why?

In 1984, while in a very junior position in an organization, I was finding my way to make a difference and be a valuable staff member. I was young and wreckless in my approach and mistook the idea of asking questions as a way to impress and influence. The leader of the organization pulled me aside and told me, “You have to know in life when you are Batman and when you are Robin.” The lesson is that I have to choose carefully when I want to support the leader and when I want to challenge them. This planted seeds in me that have helped me in my career on leadership development, hierarchy support, and human motivation. And I have also had my time in life when I really did want to challenge Batman when necessary.

FIVE: This question comes from the idealist in me... If there was one thing you wished everyone in this planet learned, what would it be?

When I read Andy’ answer about “empathy” – I said “YES!” Me too! That is what I want others to learn. Indeed, there are so many things I want people to learn. But this amazing skill to “think and feel as others” is something that I am always baffled at. This selfish refusal to not understand how and why others think and feel causes so many ill wills from one human to the other. And perhaps everyone says that at one point in their life – not matter what generation they are from, but I am becoming increasingly worried about the lack of this in our world. During our presidential elections, American’s ran around challenging people to “believe in their way” instead of asking, “Why do you believe that way?” And with the use of technology – where we don’t connect directly with humans as much as we did – I am scared that we are loosing this capability. And as the world becomes more diverse, and every nook of the earth now has diversity – this can be dangerous. I saw a controversial bumper sticker that bothered me yesterday. It said, “Why should I press 1 for English?”**

**(For non-English as your first language – this refers to a trend when you make calls to support services that have you select which language you want to converse in – usually either English or Spanish. There is a group of Americans that believe no provision should be made for other languages – and that individuals should just speak English. But I would refer to the concept of empathy – and ask if they have put themselves in the minds of others who don’t current speak English. But I don’t think they care about empathy or the feelings of anyone else other than their own convenience of pressing an extra button.)

1 comment:

JSmooth said...

Nicely written blog. Teaching and learning have to be on the same page. Good article.