“An organization’s ability to learn, and rapidly translate that learning into action, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” Jack Welch. Former CEO. GE.
Instructional designers and teachers are on the frontlines of this movement. And adopting a learning-centric culture should not be too difficult because the reality is that all of us already know how to learn and understand. Even infants can think, collaborate, solve problems, and communicate because these are our common, innate, most basic survival skills.
To become learning-centric, we should understand that there is a difference between learning and knowing. As Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” We probably should be aiming for a knowledge-centric culture based on Einstein’s observation.
What all organizations – from schools to employers – need to do in order to make themselves more learning-centric is to encourage, reward, and coach people to deploy and polish their existing learning skills. And move towards a situation where we are not just understanding, we are Knowledge Mining.
Schools, businesses, non-profits, governments, faith-based organizations, and families are all united in the same enterprise: creating a sustainable culture to pass on to the next generations. And the common theme is learning. How well our children and employees learn is in direct proportion to the prosperity and safety of us all.
That means it makes sense to understand how we learn.
We have multiple ways of learning. These skills act in concert. We all have them all in some proportion.
Understanding Our Hybrid Skills:
Questioning. Thinking is not driven by answers. Thinking is driven by questions. Answers are not the answer to learning, questions are. Questions stimulate thinking and thinking wakes up learning. Questions are the impetus for cognition. Questioning is learning and learning is questioning. That is why questioning is your #1 Killer App. In fact, questioning is the sound our minds make when we think.
Game Playing. As children we are hard wired for gameplay. Freud observed, “Play is the child’s most useful tool for preparing himself for the future and its tasks.”
Storytelling. Once humans had tools to help feed themselves, a campfire to sit around, an extended family with some leisure, plus the gift of the spoken word, they would have occupied their time telling stories, as well as gameplay, and doing art also. Some of these stories were meant to entertain, but the goal of others must have been to pass down cultural traditions and knowledge. And stories convey an idea, which itself originates as an ideation.
Pattern Recognition. From birth on, we are pattern-recognition machines. Subconscious or conscious questioning allows us to see patterns. It is an enormous cognitive advantage which helped us survive because these thinking patterns are efficient, super-fast, automatic, reliable, usually correct in context, and help avoid lethal risks and help achieve life enhancing goals. It is by definition a primal hybrid learning and coping skill. As our cerebral cortex evolved and increased in size, so did our ability to do a better job of recognizing patterns. According to Dr. Mark Mattson of Johns Hopkins University, we did this by not just expanding the raw, cognitive power available for pattern recognition by utilizing many different brain regions and neuronal networks, but also by developing novel ways of recognizing patterns. By far the most amazing and novel capability we have developed is the way in which we process patterns. Unlike even the most powerful computers which currently process data sequentially – one task at a time – we analyze data by means of their massively parallel processing capacity.
Imitation. This may well be the first way we learn. Imitation allows us to download the ideas and ways of thinking of those they associate with. This allows us to take on not just the veneer of its family customs, but the deep-seated behaviors needed to thrive.
Critical Thinking. This is the art of intellectually and emotionally analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it. It is done by using rational thought to evaluate issues and develop logical opinions into a Justified Belief; the truth Aristotle deemed to be the goal of learning.
Collaboration. Ants, bees, and wolves co-operate, but only in limited groups whose members all know each other. We humans, however, co-operate on a daily basis with others about whom we know little except that they believe in the same stories. And teamwork really pays off. “It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” Charles Darwin.
Problem solving A problem exists when an individual becomes aware of a significant difference between what actually is – reality – and what is desired. We all have to solve problems and make decisions, and the decisions we make are only as good as our problem-solving ability. To state the obvious, informed decision-making is a critical life skill.
Communication. There are many ways of communicating: writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, speaking, singing, playing an instrument, dancing, making a movie or a play, sign language, body language, mime, Morse code, via video or animation, smoke signals, bugles, drums, and whistles. What matters is the message. The content can be relayed with great style of course, but the message or content is what matters.
Ideation is the outcome of all the other skills combining so that we can learn what is necessary to form an opinion, a truth, a Justified Belief on any scale of importance, and even when done subconsciously.
Multiple Intelligences. Prof. Howard Gardner wants us to think of our intelligence as a network of specialized computers. Some parts are better at some tasks than others. Some parts of the network are better at certain times of the day. “By 1981 I was claiming that all human beings possess not just a single intelligence rather we human beings are better described as having a set of autonomous intelligences.” Gardner’s multiple intelligences – we all have eight in differing degrees of proficiency – are how we process and share ideations.
This is How Your Hybrid Skills Work Together to Ideate.