Why is your toddler getting better quality learning experiences than you are?
My youngest son went to the moon yesterday. And back, thankfully! I know this because his joyride was meticulously documented in both words and images and posted to his daycare online learning profile (FB for kids without the creepiness). It’s a cool way to keep up with some of the exciting stuff going on in their day but with all the grotty kid world peculiarities curated out like noses getting picked and pants getting pooped.
I scrolled through Wolf squeezing in to his imaginary spacesuit, packing a space bag of supplies, crouching low to blast off (here’s hoping it was) and shootin’ through the earth’s atmosphere layers to fossick around on other planets with his mates. I cracked that dopey, proud parent smile watching him in the simple joy of using imagination and taking risks to test out some assumptions and play around with new ideas to discover a whole heap of stuff about each planet that he didn’t know.
Admittedly he knew some stuff to start with – the sun’s hot, the moon is made of cheese. But with permission to play around and discover in whichever way suited them best with a bit of non-invasive facilitation and feedback from their teacher, these kids landed after their journey with a whole heap of facts about outer space as well as a few planet myths busted; and discovery skills to apply to a whole heap of other scenarios. These kids were having fun and learning stuff. Or to put it another way – learning stuff because they were having fun. I know this because Wolf could rattle these off with conviction and excitement when we caught up at home that night. Cool, I smiled smugly to myself, that’s great learning … learn by doing – tick. Learn by having fun – tick; learn by taking control – tick. Some of the solid principles we apply to all the great learning we create for adults. Nice work Wolf’s daycare. Then I read down the list of learning environment principles that this little space junket was planned within. And I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. Scrap that, I started to rage out.
• Children experience an environment where they discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive.
• Children experience an environment where they learn strategies for active exploration, thinking and reasoning.
• Children experience an environment where they are encouraged to learn with and alongside others.
Rage out because commonsense principles to create a great learning environment are not upheld or even paid lip service to in all organisations.
Has your organisation created an environment where you are encouraged to learn with and alongside others, discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive and learn strategies for active exploration, thinking and reasoning? No? Well my son’s daycare has and quite frankly my expectations of them were capped at feed, keep safe, wipe bottoms and cuddle when noise is emitted.
As adults and employees and goddamn humans we deserve better than isolated, orchestrated opportunities to develop. We deserve workplaces that blend work and learning. I know there are organisations out there that are sentient enough to have identified this and are working to find solutions to fix this gaping hole. But for the most part organisations are struggling to open their eyes to this let alone make it a priority. I’m putting money on those that get this, get why it matters and sort that stuff out pulling lengths ahead of the pack in terms of performance and innovation.
How many of these elements for a great learning environment can you tick off for your workplace?
- Permission to fail – a no blame culture, non-judgmental
- Safe to explore with support readily available
- Recognition of accomplishment
- Freedom to experiment
- Resources are friendly and accessible
- Relaxed and collaborative
- Spaces for people to gather, share and create or solve (physical or virtual)
- Learning habits are constantly modelled
- Constant opportunities for practice
I’m chuffed and excited if you can sincerely say hell yeah to even half of those. For those of you who can’t you’ve really got three options:
1. Wait for your workplace to get serious about this
Play the long game. Give your organisation the benefit of the doubt that they have this in their sights and you’ll find yourself working euphorically within a golden learning environment at some point. Hmm…like that boyfriend that promises you’ll meet his parents sometime soon but they’re just really busy people? This is med–high risk. Sure, things might work out but chances are you’ll waste your time with a company that doesn’t care enough about you to invest while the company you could go places with passes you by.
2. Get out!
Great strategy as long as you aren’t leaping from the frying pan in to the fire. By all means get the hell out but do your due diligence on the workplace you’re considering moving to. Understand what their point of view is and look for evidence that they put their money where their mouth is in regards to blending work and learning. They should be able to describe what it looks like in action and give you specific examples. Scratch beneath the surface.
3. Build it yourself
This is low risk and high effort but the strategies you employ here to create your own micro-supercharged-learning environment you will take with you and benefit from wherever you go. It could be as simple as joining a couple of online communities where you have easy and relaxed access to a range of expertise and exchange of ideas where you share yours.
- Or draw on the power of collaboration by inviting others to workshop solutions with you where you might previously have struggled on by yourself (because that’s the way you do things around here right?).
- Create a place for learning to be pulled in from outside and shared – perhaps a private Facebook group where members can post great thinking from elsewhere.
- If you want to power things up and really make big leaps, get your manager and business unit on board for additional traction. Plan your ideal learning world together, exchange, draw stories, create and conquer!
You may not make it to the moon but just start somewhere!
Written by: Maree Hoare
Maree is one of our super Account Managers! With a fire in her belly to create the best learning experiences possible for the needs of the learner and the organisation she is a tenacious soul! She also makes sure the experience for everyone involved is one of pure joy! Maree is Radness Personified!
Feature Image: Maree’s son Wolf on his adventure to the moon!