What I hear, I forget;
What I see, I remember;
but what I do I understand.
~ Confucius, 451 B.C.
Over the years, I've discovered what I call "Pike's Five Laws of Adult Learning." These, along with the aphorism from Confucius, are the foundational principles for creative training techniques, the participant-centered/instructor-led focus of The Bob Pike Group.
Law 1: Adults are Babies with Big Bodies
Recall the kinds of learning activities we did as small children—coloring, drawing, finger-painting…all hands-on activities. Children with very little experience learn through experience. As adults, we bring a lot of experience to our training programs. We want to acknowledge, honor and celebrate that experience. If, as children with very little experience, we could discover and learn, how much more as adults can we discover and learn.
Law 2: People Don’t Argue with Their Own Data
If I say something in a training session, you might believe that I’m convinced about its truth—but just because I said it, doesn’t mean you believe it. However, if you say it, you believe it. Having groups in my training sessions create their own lists, such as characteristics of effective leaders, means they’ve compiled their own data—things they believe to be factual. And they oftentimes cover about 80 percent of what I was going to say, leaving me only 20 percent to fill in. I find the group much more willing to accept my suggestions for that 20 percent than if I try to present them all.
Law 3: Learning is Directly Proportional to the Amount of Fun You Have
The sheer joy of learning can come from involvement and participation. Few of us have the entertainment capacity of Bob Hope or Tim Allen and the ability to keep our audience riveted for hours. But we, as trainers, don’t have to! We can use the energy, involvement and participation of our audience to put into their personal learning experiences the excitement they vicariously get from some of their entertainment activities. Humor can aid enormously in reducing stress and anxiety, especially when it comes to learning. And a more relaxed atmosphere means more openness to learning.
Law 4: Learning has not Taken Place Until Behavior has Changed
In training, it’s not what you know—it’s what you do with what you know that counts. That’s why skill practice is so important in our training sessions. If we want people to do things differently, we must provide them with many opportunities to be comfortable accepting new ideas in a non-threatening environment. C.S. Lewis said, “A man with experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” Give people successful experiences in using information and techniques in the classroom so we increase the likelihood of on-the-job application.
Law 5: Fu Yu, WuYu, Wzu Tu Yu
Roughly translated, this means Momma’s having it, and Papa’s having it, ain’t like baby having it.
If I can do something from my seminar, so what? If you can do something from one of my seminars, so what? It’s when you can successfully transfer that learning to someone else (or Baby), that I as a trainer know I’ve done my job. It’s one confirmation of your competence—when you can pass on what you know to someone else.