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Saturday, 16 June 2012

What is "Method Learning"?

There are certain expressions and pieces of advice that stick in the mind. Here's one that I picked up at the start of a training course I attended a couple of years ago:

"Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open" Lord Thomas Robert Dewar

This is a very vivid analogy, which is why I like it.

Imagine how it would feel if you were careering towards the ground with a closed parachute! Now if you're a sky diver or a dare devil type, perhaps this is an exhilarating thought. Whatever your thoughts or experiences of parachuting, you're likely to conjur up either an enjoyable adrenalin rush, or the feelings of sheer terror.

Any kind of anecdote or quote which evokes an emotional response is far more likely to stick in the mind than an isolated fact or piece of information. That's because our emotional memories tend to be far deeper and longer lasting than our cognitive memories. The method in "Method Acting" refers to the practice pioneered by Constantin Stanislavski and advocated by Lee Strasberg, by which actors draw upon their own emotional memories in order to enhance their performance.

For a similar reason, emotional memories can enhance our ability to teach or to learn new skills. I've recently dubbed this approach: "Method Learning". In a similar way to Method Acting, Method Learning involves individuals connecting to their own emotional memories in order enhance their ability to imbibe, recall and implement their learning.

So for example, if you attend one of my Management & Supervision Skills courses, you will be asked early on in the session to recall various experiences of being managed yourself. As you remember the circumstances and the range of positive and negative experiences, you begin to ‘hook into’ your emotional memory. This then becomes the starting point for creating your own powerful strategy for moving forward. Rather than asking you to remember the 6 most important things that "managers" do, you will leave with, and will hopefully remember for a long time, the most poignant and valuable things you can do to be the best manager you can be – as these will be based on, and anchored by your own emotional memories.
You don’t need to attend a special training course to be able to use “Method Learning” – you simply need to be able to find the emotional connection with whatever it is you want to learn. It may be the anticipation of the benefits of learning whatever it is, or the determination to avoid the consequences of standing still. It may be the fear of replicating what others have done in the past, or the excitement of achieving something great.

Very few people simply collect information or advice for the sake of it. I’d suggest that even the greatest quiz brains have their own emotional motivation to cram all those seemingly random, and often useless facts into their brains...

So next time you'd like to learn something new, why not give "Method Learning" a go? After all, what have you got to lose?

Actually, really do ask yourself that question - "What have I got to lose if I don't learn this?"

If when you answer it, you can feel some kind of emotional reaction (such as excitement, fear, anticipation, determination), then you're definitely on the way to putting my "Method Learning" into practice!