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  • Mark Stevens

Learning...is not goose liver.

Updated: Jul 20


Stretching back into antiquity, learning has been compared to eating. Spiritual or intellectual enlightenment is to the brain as food is to the stomach. It encourages, enlivens, helps to give purpose and joy to life.

We've all experienced it. A inspiring TED talk, an article that solved a problem, or similar.

Yet have you seen learning served improperly? "Brain Rules," by John Medina, compares some learning deliveries to the way food is force-fed into geese with tubes to create liver pate. Not a pretty picture, there is no time to digest or enjoy the food. It is meant to expand the liver so the farmer can gain more product. The geese are not designed to eat this way, that's why tubes are required.

At times, I have seen the same approach used for corporate learning. To check off a checkbox on a project plan or to gain "compliance," a list of objectives is "force-fed" to learners. But learners are not designed to learn this way.

Like the size of our mouth and digestive system limit the amount of food we can eat, our brains too have a limit. They are not just containers for information. They have "digestive" systems. The subject being learned needs to be cut up into bite-sized pieces. It needs to be chewed and swallowed. And it needs to ruminate through it's processes to really make an impact and have the desired effect.

Many know this instinctively. For example, TED talks are limited to 18 minutes. News magazine stories are about the same length. Good newspaper story is a headline and a few column inches - not pages long. Like food we need our learning to be the right size with some variety and a visually pleasing design. And then a nice dessert and time to digest (practice) what is learned. (more on this later)

"Eaten" properly, like a good meal, it should give strength to the learner and inspire them to even greater works. And make them eager to come to the table again.

Have you noticed the same. Have you ever been through a "force feeding" session yourself?

#learning #talentdevelopment

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