Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Do Adults Learn?

By Al Norval

Adults learn very differently from children.

Children are sponges. Every day is a new adventure in which new things are learned. Somewhere along the way this all changes and we mature and become adults.

Adults on the other hand, only learn what they feel they need to learn. Adult learning is very practical. If I can’t see how this will help me now, then the true understanding and retention rate of the learning will be very low. I’m sure we can all remember the blah, blah, blah of college professors droning on about some mundane topic that was soon forgotten after the final exam was written.

So, what does this mean?

Adult learning focuses on solving problems. More concretely, realistic problems that people have right now.

When teams have problems, leaders have an opportunity to teach and use the problem to raise the capability of their Team Members. This is the power and magic behind kaizen.

We solve problems and learn in the very process of doing so. This is also the basis of Mental model #1 – Leader as a Teacher. Not to teach like a college professor but to teach Socratically by asking question to build the teams capability and guide the Team through the problem solving process.

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