Rutgers Executive MBA lecturer Jim Smith

It Shouldn't Be as Easy as 1, 2, 3

By Jim Smith

My good friend Steve Woodruff has seen me in action a number of times. He has also participated in several of my workshops. He knows that I wholeheartedly believe that learning happens best when it is experiential. And he also knows that not everyone believes what I believe regarding this topic. To provide some support for my approach to how adults (or anyone for that matter) learn best, he sent me a powerful article that was in Fast Company (written by Mary Slaughter and David Rock). It's called, "No Pain, No Gain: Why Learning Demands (A Little) Discomfort."

Here's a brief excerpt:

"Instead, quality learning requires what brain scientists call 'desirable difficulty.' The more active the learning process, the better your comprehension and recall. It feels taxing, not exactly fluent or fun, and maybe even 'bad,' depending on whom you ask. But the same way that you need a hard workout to increase your fitness, learning needs to feel strenuous in order to stick. It shouldn’t be a breeze."

As facilitators and speakers we have to have courage to apply this approach. Not everyone is going to like it. You're going to get some push back. I typically do. But once your participants see their growth, in such a short period of time, they are going to become believers too. I've always said that I know if I've done a good job if my learners are as exhausted as I am after the session. It is called a workshop (not a sit shop) right? I subscribe to this approach even when I'm doing a motivational keynote. I get my audience members involved. You didn't get your driver's licence by watching others drive. You learned by taking the steering wheel yourself and practicing (in traffic).

Retire from the lecture club. Rip up your death by Powerpoint membership card. Become allergic to comfort zones. And begin hanging out with facilitators and speakers who believe in telling them how to do it, showing them how to do it, then letting them do it. You're going to love your results and so will your learners.

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