I recently saw “The Walk”, the story of Philippe Petit and his high wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. What really struck me was, when Philippe Petit learned to walk a wire, he started off with six wires strung parallel and as his confidence and competence increased he removed one wire until just one wire remained. He could then move the wire higher and higher up as his technique and confidence improved. Secondly, his teacher did not stand over him but directed him as to how to learn for himself.
Reflecting on this film and how it relates to The Learning Loop® , I have found that groups of learners work best when they do not face the front of a classroom but learn in a variety of ways; for themselves, from each other, from activities and from the facilitator even. This is the way that The Learning Loop® is facilitated. It does not simply “happen” but comes about through understanding four main variables that affect classroom learning. Understanding these will mean that the learners will be comfortable and at their best.
- The environment – without a good environment you will severely limit the ability of the group to interact. This means that the choice of location and room set-up can help ensure that the group are ready to learn. The learners must also feel comfortable and “safe” to learn. You can help set up the right environment before they even come into the room through preparatory work and emails.(…….but that is another blog)
- The balance of each group – without good balance there can be a tendency of one person to dominate a group so an idea of the attendees and their experience should be gained before an event.
- How individuals and groups experience the learning – understanding the amount of knowledge that the groups already possess and be sensitive to that. Allow those with some knowledge to have a voice and share that knowledge.
- Importantly – the way in which the learning is directed. This not only includes the task at hand (what is being learned) but how you facilitate that balance between self direction and facilitation.
So if you want to ensure that people learn well; not only do you have to set the learning environment up well but you need to understand how the environment affects group learning.