There are no shortcuts to learning.
Yet, we believe there are.
We rush to see the top 20 tips in 60 minutes. Or the six best pointers an expert has learned from their own success. Our brains love lists. And our brains will take the easy route to alleged learning anytime.
The Illusion Of Knowing
If you are a speaker or conference organizer, consider the following:
Creating sessions that provide a list of tips and tricks does not lead to authentic learning. It leads to the illusion of knowing.
“Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow,” say the authors of Make It Stick: The Science Of Successful Learning.
Passing out tips and great ideas to an audience feels great. And our audience loves it. We feel proud that we met their needs.
But did we really meet their needs?
Not really. We just lead them to the illusion of learning. We gave them a temporary feeling of satisfaction. It met their immediate gratification. But it won’t serve them very well later.
Why Tips-And-Tricks Education Sessions Don’t Work
We are poor judges of when we are learning well. And when we are not says the Make It Stick authors.
We are deluded by the belief that a list of tips and tricks will help us improve. We think that if someone else has already done the work, we can take the quick and easy route to improvement.
However, if we don’t understand…
- why and how those tips work…
- the context of when those tips work and…
- the issues and problems underneath those tips…
we will fail at implementing them.
That’s usually when we blame the speaker. It’s their fault for giving us faulty information we say.
The truth is we took the easy path. We firmly believe someone can hand us their knowledge and then we have it too.
The learning research shows that just giving the best ideas to someone to implement leads to copying, mimicry and parroting behavior. And it will eventually lead to failure.
We have to help our attendees create authentic, transformational learning.
Authentic, transformational learning creates a deep understanding of the underlying issue. Then we can adapt and apply the learning to our own context.
When the path is harder and slower, it may feel less productive but it actually is just the opposite.
Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning state the Make It Stick authors. Even if we make errors in the process.
Receiving a list of hints from an expert gives us feelings of fluency. We become familiar with the words and therefore assume it’s a sign of mastery. But it’s all fleeting!
For true mastery, durability of memory, effective recall, the list of tips is largely a waste of time. We need to spend time learning the issue. And learning is an acquired skill.
We are all susceptible to illusions of knowing that can hijack our judgment of what we know and can do state these authors. We have to remember that the most effective learning strategies are often counter-intuitive.
There is no shortcut to learning.
What are some ways your education offerings can provide deeper, authentic learning? What do we need to do to help our audience/customers understand transformational learning versus fleeting effortless surface learning?