Practicing Andragog Tips: How We Learn

    People, as you know, are divided into two types: those who read the instructions before turning on the electrical appliances, and those who first turn on, and in the case of some jambs, they start reading what he did wrong.

    I definitely belong to the second group. Therefore, this is exactly how I started creating my first training. At that time, I had been working at Intel for 3 years, reading several intra-corporate trainings, when I suddenly felt an irresistible desire to do my training.

    After all, everyone knows that corporate trainings teach how to live in a corporation. A hose is inserted into your ear through which vision, mission & corporate values ​​are pumped.

    Therefore, I decided, I will do my training, where I will tell the whole truth-womb. And did. What to do there? Take your experience, draw beautiful slides, come up with exercises - and go!

    And it was terrible. No, people just liked it, but now it seems awful to me. Because, as it turned out after a while, for a successful training you need not only your own experience, a good sense of humor, the ability to speak and communicate with people. Need another technique. Without an understanding of which people make 10% of the benefits that they could get from your training, if you first read the instructions on how to educate adults.

    It turns out that humanity has already accumulated quite a lot of material on this topic. Which material entered the science of adult education, which is called how? No, not pedagogy. This is a science about teaching and raising children. And about adults? That's right - andragogy.

    In a previous article [1], we talked about a matrix of awareness and competence and how adults learn skills. Let’s now talk about a learning model that provides an answer to the question of how to teach adults. About the flask cycle.

    Having understood this model, you will be able to:
    • Clearly understand why some trainings and seminars are useful, while others go bad
    • Correctly educate other people - both in groups and individually
    • Talk smartly on adult learning, confidently using the term “flask cycle”

    I learned about this model about 4 years ago on the Kiev-Peter train. This train runs exactly one day, so after you have gone through two customs and drank coffee three times, there is nothing else to do but to do it yourself. At that time, self-education was expressed in listening to a good course for trainers, from which David Kolb's model was drawn. Since then, I heard this model under several different names, but I fell in love with it under that.

    I must say right away that this article is unlikely to have a direct relationship to project management. And initially I did not plan to write about the Kolb cycle - this is a coaching tool rather than a management one. But she fell into this category for two reasons:

    1. The previous article about the matrix of awareness and competence was somehow well located in this category, and this article is a continuation of the conversation on the same topic.

    2. Project managers, by the nature of their activity, often have to communicate with people, convincing and training them to use various things. And there is a feeling that understanding this technique will also not be useless to them.

    So, what did American education theorist David Kolb tell the world?

    Specific experience. It all starts with gaining specific experience. Such a banal thought was voiced at the time by Mr. Kolb.

    An example from life. The director of one company told me about beer, how he went to a training on tough negotiations (hereinafter almost a direct quote):

    About twelve directors gathered for us. The coach is in a suit, sitting, muttering something there. We sit, we think that we have come in vain - what can he teach us? All people are experienced, each with ten years of experience in negotiations with customers, police, SES, firefighters.

    Then the door opens, such an amballa comes in two by two. He comes to me and bends down to give out: “YOU HAVE SIT IN MY PLACE ?! Let's get out of here! ”

    I was somehow taken aback even by surprise. I sit, silent, blushed. Then I hear from the side of the coach: “You see, Sergey did not manage. Today we’ll see how to resolve such situations. ”

    It’s good when a specific experience is negative. That is, something did not work out. At this point, certain processes begin in the head:

    Reflection. Thoughts arise: “How so? I’m so smart ... I have a higher education ... I’m called the director ... But I was confused in such a simple negotiating situation ... ”

    Perhaps you had thoughts about how you would wave your fists after the fight. This is the very reflection. The results of reflection should be some:

    Model , which:
    • On the one hand, it would explain what happened.
    • On the other hand, it would give recommendations on how to behave in the future if a similar situation repeats itself.

    Then the model needs to be tested. Need:

    Practice. Interestingly, practice leads to a new concrete experience. And thus the learning cycle closes.


    What stage to start with? If you and I return to the matrix of awareness and competence and ask ourselves, where is the person whom we are going to teach something? In fact, it can be anywhere.

    He may have a natural talent for dealing with such situations. Or maybe he has already passed a couple of trainings and is able to do something. Not perfect, but able. Or he stuffed his first bumps and is now actively looking for the answer to the question “How is it necessary?” Or considers all this garbage, but could not refuse the authorities, who decided to send him to the training:
    - You know, you probably need to go to a training on effective communications ...
    - But what is wrong with communications? !!!
    - Well, that’s exactly why go to this training.

    Start: problematization. Coaches sometimes call this the degree of problematization of the group. In a standard training group of 12-15 people, be sure that you can get people from any squares of our favorite matrix of awareness and competence.

    Therefore, good training usually begins with a problematic exercise. Some case is given, people are clamped in time, provoked by a mistake or offered to do one thing, and then they ask about the other.

    Life example: at a training for managers in Ireland, our team was given the task of making packaging for chicken eggs from improvised materials so that when thrown from a height of 3m, it would not break.

    Naturally, the packaging that was not turned out was then analyzed, but how the team members communicated during this exercise, who took on what roles. Who became the leader? Who stepped aside? Why? Who felt what at that moment? What prevented you from being more active? Etc.

    If you start right away with a model, some people may simply not listen to you: “Why listen to him? Everything is fine with us ... The work is working, the releases are being released, the builds are building ... ”

    You need something else - so that people listen to you. It is necessary that people make mistakes and start reflecting on this topic, think about why it didn’t work and draw parallels in real life.

    Life example: at our trainings we quite often give tasks to do something for the customer (we assign customers directly at the training). Interestingly, 100% of the teams are interested in collecting requirements from the customer and manufacturing the product, and EVERYONE forgets about that. it’s nice to tell the customer sometimes what they’ve already done.

    Then we ask customers what they thought about the teams during the exercise - they usually do not think very well, which often comes as a surprise to teams. And this triggers a reflection in the head on the topic of how we work with the customer.

    Reflection: prepared questions and discussions. What do you think people include in the brain? Right, questions. At the reflection stage, you need as many questions as possible.

    Why did it happen? At what point did it go wrong? How to avoid this in the future? How to draw it all in the form of a diagram.

    Your task here is very simple - to help people themselves come to a model.

    Model: let them come up with it themselves. You can outline the model yourself. But it is much better if people come up with it themselves. It’s like in an institute. If you yourself came up with a proof of a theorem, then in the exam you come up with it again. Because the necessary chain of reasoning has already been poked around in my head.

    A self-born model is remembered better. And your role is such an obstetrician who helps the model to be born. Using different simple and not very techniques like stability tests mentioned in the previous article [2].

    Common sense retreat. Naturally, if we are talking about an urgent problem, then there is no need to walk around and around. It is not necessary during a fire to bring a person to the correct solution by asking: “What do you think, which fire extinguisher is best to extinguish: powder or carbon dioxide? Or is it better to use a fire hose? No, well, what do you think? ” Fires must be put out sharply by directing the team. But if we are talking about issues that are not urgent, but important, it is better to delegate the birth of the model to those in need.

    Practice: positive. At the stage of testing a model, a person MUST OBTAIN. Because if something goes wrong with him again, then there will either be doubts about the model, or distrust of you as a teacher.

    Therefore, it should work out. And be so kind as to follow the process and be there, so that in case of anything, bring the necessary corrections.

    How to apply it all. Friends, actually. it doesn’t matter if you conduct seminars or trainings or not. If you are engaged in teaching anyone in any form (reading reports, internal master classes, mentoring newcomers, etc.), then you can definitely think about how to apply the Kolba cycle in your training:
    • What exercise to make problematic?
    • What issues to strengthen reflection?
    • What questions bring people to the model? (What to give to the one who will give the most correct answers?)
    • How to organize a practice?

    Or maybe you are using other learning models? Share with colleagues what exactly. I think it will be a rather interesting exchange of experience.

    If you are not teaching groups of people, then you may occasionally have to share experience with colleagues. Most likely, they come up with questions, when they got their specific experience. And then you can just as well bring them to the correct model with questions and help to apply it.

    To help colleagues stretch their brains and learn something new - does this not give us a plus in karma?

    Alexander Orlov

    PS In the next article I would like to return to managerial tools and talk about a simple tool for working with motivating people

    PPS Links of this article:
    1. The article "Management Tools: How to explain when you feel in one place?"
    2. The article “And what will happen if ... or How to help the interlocutor to give birth to the right decision”
    3. 7-minute video in the format of Pech Kucha “How do we explain and why they don’t hear us”

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