I love Hyde Park Speakers Corner in London. You’ll hear the best and the worst speakers in this location; and they wax delirious on an endless range of topics. Here’s one important thing, though. You need to be good if you’re going to speak there. People vote with their feet, and very quickly.
When I walked around there a couple of months ago, I got to thinking about what constitutes really good learning for adults. And so, partly as a result of that few minutes, I’m now sorting out what I’m going to call The Laws Of Learning. Am also thinking about writing a simple little booklet (or App, or some other form of information-supporting device) that clarifies these Laws.
Just in case you didn’t know, the scientific term for adult learning is ‘andragogy’. If you’re a teacher / trainer / lecturer / facilitator for adults, you need to know your andragogy. I might call this my Andragogy App (What a winner of a title. I can hear the deafening applause from here).
For quality learning to take place, these 12 Laws must be reinforced by the facilitator, and practised by the learners. The questions are directed towards the learner in this early outline down below. I’m open to any feedback here. What have I missed with some Laws? How could these be adjusted?
There are quite a few overlaps eg between the Law Of Modalities; and the Law Of Interaction. However, for now, I’ll stick with these 12.
I’m also thinking of writing some form of parable to create the context for this; and possibly placing this into a form of learning journey that travels through a digital (or even ancient) landscape. Maybe I’ll then go back to London and apply them to a presentation in Hyde Park. That would be the ultimate test.
So here we go. The 12 Laws Of Learning:
1. The Law Of Purpose. Clarify the purpose for the learning. Why are we doing this? Where are we going with this learning? What’s our reason for being here?
2. The Law Of Ownership. To learn effectively, the learner must own (at least part of) the process. How have we been involved in the initial construction of this learning process? How will we monitor our own performance during and after the learning experience?
3. The Law Of Association. Effective learning occurs when the learner makes connections with what he / she already knows. What connections can we make between our prior knowledge, and with what we’re learning here?
4. The Law Of Relevance. The learning must have meaning within the learner’s own life. Can we make use of this? Will it be relevant to what we do each day? How will we put it into practice?
5. The Law Of Memory. To remember what we learn is patently an obvious factor. Watch for what is called primacy (the 1st thing you hear), and recency (the last thing you hear). How do we commit what we’ve learnt to our memory? How do we best access it later when we need it?
6. The Law Of Modalities. Each learner has his / her preferred modes of learning. Some learners are more auditory than other, some are kinaesthetic, some prefer text, others would rather talk about it. What’s our most effective mode? How could we effectively use that in our very next learning experience?
7. The Law Of Motivation. Internal motivators are more powerful than external motivators for most adult learners. What inspires us to succeed? What do we most want to learn in our life? Or at least, what do we most want to learn here in this session today?
8. The Law Of Interaction. Learners must be immersed in the task; they have to engage with the experience. This can include direct practice; team dynamics; competitive roleplays; movement; visual reinforcement; ongoing professional dialogue. How do we each like to best interact?
9. The Law of Thinking. Critical and creative thinking are equally important, as are the questions and connections we develop as a result of our thinking. Synthesizing what we learn leads to depth of understanding. How really do we think? What do we think about during the learning? How does that help our learning?
10. The Law Of Repetition. Remember the 10,000 hr rule (it takes that many hours to become an expert in most things!). For learning to become embedded, it must be practised over and over, in a variety of contexts. How prepared are we each to practise? What strategies help us to persevere with the repetitions?
11. The Law Of Narrative. When the presenter tells a story, it creates a context for the learning. And an entertaining (and even emotional) one at that, if we’re lucky. Stories create stronger brain maps. How much more effective is our own learning if we get to hear contextual stories? What are our favourite stories, and why?
12. The Law Of Challenge. Think Goldilocks. Not too cold, not too hot. If the learning is too easy, then it’s boring. If it’s too complex for the learner, then she / he won’t relate to it. Do we learn more effectively with low or high challenge? How open are we to extreme intellectual provocation? Where are the very limits with our own Challenge Zone?