Turn The Curiosity Back On

Cuba Diver Being Curious

With all the thinking about self-directed learning and learned helplessness of learning lately, I can’t help to think that curiosity needs to be turned back on.

Somewhere between 4th and 8th grade formal education turned the switch of curiosity off to create the expectation that information is delivered to you. There’s a few anomalies to this phenomenon, but they’re few and far between.

It got me thinking about how people get complacent in their job. They get comfortable and stop trying to learn new things. New things are learned only when somebody tells you to or there’s a new job you have your eye one.

That’s not good enough.

Just like the time to develop your professional network is not when you’re looking for work. It’s not time to learn something new only when somebody tells you to.

Those that are the most helpless to learn for themselves are also the one’s who have shut themselves off from the world of learning. Or at least they have a firm belief that the only place for learning is a place where someone is teaching you.

So, how do you reach those people with the valuable information that learning is the work and the work is learning? I see a lot of great information out there from a lot of smart people, the problem is that it’s going to people who are already interested in learning and growing.

How do we reach the one’s who have already shut themselves off? They only look internally within their organization and department. They’ve shut themselves off and willingly put themselves in a silo.

Some of the smartest L&D minds are on Twitter and in blogs, the problem is they aren’t reaching the one’s who need it most, those that have learned to be the most helpless in learning. The audience they’re reaching is already trying working to change things, an audience who is already seeking more answer and more information.

How do they reach an audience who isn’t looking for help but needs help the most?

How do you convince those that believe learning only takes place in a classroom otherwise?

I’m always mulling these questions and I’m looking forward to having discussions about them tomorrow on #chat2lrn. Everybody in the discussion will be in the same state of mind that learning is life, so nobody who needs to be reached will be reached, but that doesn’t make the discussion any less important.

Even if we can’t figure out quite yet how to reach beyond those few willing to be curious, I’m confident some great conversations will happen around the things we can do to create those small changes that matter.

The biggest challenge in a L&D persons career is how to turn that natural curiosity back on in a person who has no interest in being reached. Take the Learned Helplessness of Learning and turn it back into the natural curiosity that everyone’s born with!

I’m looking forward to having a discussion with you and hope you leave a comment here as well.

4 Comments

  1. Mike Collins on December 11, 2014 at 4:24 am

    It’s a tricky one isn’t it …how do you bring back the mindset of discovery and curiosity in adult learners. In my mind you have to do this by creating a genuine desire and need in learners to get something or acquire something they can use and will be of value. Creating a path to get this information and use it and apply it is then the key element as people won’t want to discover or be curious about other things if that experience is mind numbingly boring and not a pleasant experience. I focus a lot on creating open online spaces where things can be shared and found that then link to a learner journey – this can be focused or scale to that of a learning ecosystem where people can dip in and out and find what they are looking for or go further down the rabbit hole. Content is of course key but context is king so how does what they discover relate to what they do and how they do it. How to you measure this in terms of value and action. We are naturally curious as human beings but it gets driven out of us through the education systems we travel through. A lot of what is shared in the social space is preaching to the converted so it is down to us as L&D pros to challenge the status quo of how ‘Learning’ ‘ training’ or whatever is ‘delivered’ and ‘managed’ back in the organisations we work and convert people by showing them how technology can be harnessed to create more rabbit hole moments and that there is a much more fun, social and collaborative way to approach workplace learning.

    • Nick Leffler on December 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks Mike for the comment. You make some good points and solutions. I think the key to changing behavior is to realize learning is not something you do at a specific time and place, it’s part of life.

      Empowering a person to use the tools they have at their disposal to find answers to there problems is key. L&D is not about learning (as in training), it’s about empowering people to learn themselves. Empower them to use the tools and find the answers to their challenges.

      I love that you’re creating open online spaces for sharing and curating their own learning experience to share between colleagues. I think it’s a great way to use PKM to explore a journey and learn things in public that would otherwise be lost in the abyss of the mind.

      • Mike Collins on December 12, 2014 at 4:25 am

        So true – a reason why I love the unconference format so much as a way to structure and approach an event where learning can happen as we explore and discover. I think this post I wrote about one of these events will ring true with you Nick 🙂

        http://www.learningasylum.co.uk/2014/10/swimming-in-the-social-stream/

        • Nick Leffler on December 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm

          I’ve been seeing more and more about unconferences. Such a great concept given that the people and conversations with those people are really what drives changes and innovation. I’ll be reading your post this weekend and will be adding your blog to my RSS feed, looks like some good stuff there 🙂

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