Every Professional Development Training was an Adult Learning Adventure!


What if it were true? What if EVERY training you went to was a learning adventure:

Something you could look forward to, enjoy, and apply when you got back to the office?

What would it take?

The last time we talked, I told you professional development doesn’t work, that it doesn’t teach to the learner.

That’s because it doesn’t give the brain what it needs to learn, remember, and apply what is being presented.

Today, we’re going to take a little deeper look into what exactly I’m talking about, most of which comes from the field of brain research.

Brain research can’t tell us how the brain does things. It can, however, tell us what the brain needs and prefers to do things, things like learning.

The funny thing is, most of the things we know the brain likes – aren’t applied to learning.

The best resource I know that presents this information concisely and clearly is John Medina’s Brain Rules. Everything I’m going to talk about he touches on (You should really read the book because he says so much more too!)

There are other brain researchers, too, that talk about the benefit of movement and exploration as important factors in what the brain likes to improve its ability to learn.

Go ahead, google it. You will be amazed!

Consider our ancient predecessors. Our brains “grew up” in an environment where they walked an average of 12 miles a day while exploring and solving problems. When you consider the cave man days, it is logical that moving kept one from being eaten AND being able to explore and solve problems allowed for the acquisition and use of tools and lessons in how best to find shelter, food, and safety.

Current brain research indicates that the need for movement (the word “exercise” might ring a bell) and exploration continue to be things the brain really, really likes.

Exercise is so important to cognition that adding aerobic exercise twice a week to your schedule can decrease your risk of general dementia by 50%!

Babies are the perfect model for how we learn – not by passive absorption – but by experience, manipulation, experimentation, and exploration.

Yeah, yeah. So what? How does that relate to our adult learning adventure?

Last time you attended a professional development training did you wear your tennis shoes? Or did you find yourself in a room somewhere, in a chair, or at a table? What were you asked to do from that room, table, and/or chair?

Yeah, it’s starting to make sense.

Our adult learning adventures must include movement. It is a simple and easy way to increase engagement of both the body and the mind. Movement is a mechanism to ingrain learning through kinesthetics. It also allows for a different access to the brain; another modality.

Similarly, exploration in the form of problem solving or discovery is also a requirement. We each have our own way of experiencing, learning, and filing information. When we discover the answers for ourselves, it is easier for that new learning to be integrated into our prior learning system.

When I teach anything that has a model and/or a process, I can use body movement and discovery to increase engagement and solidify learning. For example, let’s say that the concept being learned has five boxes that need to be filled in sequentially.

I tape those five boxes to the floor as a giant, live model.

The participants have the chance to explore a scenario or case study, beginning to solve for themselves through the application of the process. The ultimate goal is to complete the boxes of the process with a partner in conversation and dialogue.

Upon completing that task, they come to the front where the giant, live model is taped on the floor. They move through each box as they talk about their example of the process.

I have all of the pairs in the room repeat the same exercise (using different case studies or scenarios), reinforcing and discussing the process, accuracy of information, and other considerations. The learning is deeper, more engaged, and long lasting.

This is an example of an adult learning adventure!

The difference comes from the design and delivery of the training. It requires an extraordinary trainer!

Look for my next FB Live this week “What it takes to go from boring professional development to awesome adult learning adventure.” I hope you’ll join me or look for the replay (tagged here after it’s aired).

Until next time,

Be Extraordinary!