When was the last time you learned something powerful in a group setting?
I’ve asked my workshop participants this very question hundreds of times and I can count on one hand the number of times someone relayed an example that took place in a university setting (see my caveat below).
Powerful learning is relevant.
Powerful learning pushes us so that we feel challenged, but not so hard that we fall and break our noses.
Powerful learning evokes emotion; it makes us feel alive, intrigued, curious and energized.
Powerful learning leads to change.
If powerful learning is all of the above then how come more of it isn’t happening in universities? How come what we hold up to be higher learning doesn’t jive with how brain based learning, adult education, popular education and experiential education (all pedagogies or methods of learning) tell us we learn?
Want to know the answer? It’s really quite simple.
It has its roots in one of my ultimate pet peeves, the following popular equation:
content expertise + setting to teach said expertise in + students = learning
Ack! Insert intense frustration, furled eyebrows, and raised blood pressure.
The mistake in the equation is the assumption that just because you know something means you can automatically teach it. There’s a real lack of understanding that being able to teach and create situations of powerful learning requires an entirely separate skill set from whatever your content expertise is in.
You could be the best widget maker in the entire world. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily can teach other people how to make widgets.
To read more about powerful learning and gets your hands on some related resources check out this e-newsletter issue of mine (I wrote it some time ago so ignore the upcoming events section, unless you have access to a time machine).
Do you have subject matter expertise that you’re called on to teach? Need to brush up on your teaching skills? If you’re in the Vancouver Lower Mainland area you may be interested in a two day course I’m teaching on how to teach (Feb 1 & 2) called Mastering the Complexities of Group Dynamics at the Justice Institute. Hope to see you there.
Oh and my caveat about universities? I don’t mean to slag them entirely, in fact I spent many years getting a few degrees under my belt. My beef (or tofu if you’re so inclined) is that being in a lecture of hundreds is held up as the baseline for learning. Not!