People are starting to get the whole “teach-it-so-they-actually-get-it” thing.
Rejoice folks. The era of learning by bland lecture and brute-force memorization – in nearly any field of study – is going the way of the proverbial dodo boid.
1. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
This book opened doors. Betty Edwards fired the first profound volley into my fortress of intellectual rigidity by showing me how to turn off the portion of my brain that stifles and shunts the creative process. She helps us realize that every single person on this planet with the ability to render his or her own signature on paper has artistic talent, and that the ability to draw is a skill that can be learned. The barrier isn’t in the hands. The barrier is simply learning how to see. She provides techniques that train us to silence the logical, icon- and archetype-forming mechanisms in our left brain, and awaken the holistic, time-unaware right brain. The examples of before and after drawings from her students speak volumes. Mind you, a great deal of elbow grease and practice is required to hone the skill, but Edwards provides the Yellow Brick Road to Oz – and it doesn’t have to take years. Yes – YOU. CAN. DRAW. Believe it! Let Betty Edwards show you.
2. Head-First Java.
I get a wild hair every once in a blue moon to attempt to teach myself a decent programming language for fear of being completely left behind by technology. Java caught my interest for several reasons: web-site tools, garbage pick-up, object-oriented structure was integral to it, not a kludged band-aid after the fact… Except… have you ever tried to teach yourself a programming language? Or learn object-oriented programming from scratch? Let me tell ya, there are paradigm shifts o’plenty you need to grasp. The available books out there ranged from good to awful, all of which that I came across got you through “Hello World” okay, and then took the Morpheus flying-leap leaving you scratching your head. Enter Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. They took an alternate approach to teaching Java using light-hearted wit, lots and lots of pictures, re-iteration of important concepts, and insightful ways of explaining WHY the techniques are what they are. They took the approach that your brain is geared towards certain things, like, keeping you from getting eaten by a tiger, and that things of lesser importance — like learning to communicate with a computer — the brain wants to, well, not deal with that stuff much. So they came up with some nifty ways to present complex, esoteric programming techniques in a way that your brain is actually willing to process. The result is their phenomenal instructional book: Head First Java. Warning, read this, and you’ll have little patience for boring text books on ANY subject.
3. Claus Levin’s Neoclassical Academy
Having played guitar for 27 years, and seldom satisfied with my progress, I was not a happy axeman. I nearly quit several times over the years, figuring I just wasn’t going to get any better. Some people just have the ability to master their instrument, and some us well, just have settle for hobbyist level no matter how many hundreds of hours of practice we put into it. I was convinced I just didn’t learn as well as other people did and I should just deal with it. And then… just recently I start catching YouTube videos from this instructor who “pressed all the right buttons.” Claus rhetorically asks, “You know the scales, the arpeggios, the techniques.. so why aren’t you a master? Oh practice more? Practice what??? I practiced what you said to practice!” He claimed he beat his head against the wall just like most of us — but at some point he started applying his intellectual, analytical ability to his own lack of progress with astounding results. He realized that there is a HUGE GAP in what is taught to guitar players on how to master your instrument. What really piqued my interest was that Claus delved into HOW your brain works, how it forms relationships from one concept to another, and how these things affect your guitar playing. Not only did he provide me a new road-map to improve, he provided two very important things I hadn’t had in 27 years of playing: Hope and Confidence. This video will give you a taste of Claus’ fascinating take on learning guitar:
I had the privilege of meeting and enjoying several wonderful discussions with Dr James Fadigan, a pioneer in the field of neuroplasticity and the new understanding of how we as humans learn. He founded the Orlando-based company Learn to Learn. Check out their youtube channel. Alternatively, you may have seen ads for the online “brain training” service lumosity which leverages the concept of neuroplasticity — the discovery that your brain develops new neural pathways that can circumvent old ineffective pathways or even major damage. The break-out pioneering book on the topic was written by Dr Norman Doidge, MD, “The Brain That Changes Itself.” The story about an elderly gentleman’s remarkable recovery from a major stroke got my attention.
These four examples should give you a good primer on one very disruptive idea: If your competitor is leveraging forward-thinking methods like these to train their people, teach classes, or improve the value they bring to people’s lives, you better be nervous.
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