If you could learn anything super quickly, what would you learn?
The best learners in the world are children. Everything is new in their eyes. They are imaginative, novel and silly. Their days are filled with play, exploration and creativity. And through this process they learn – quickly.
As adults, we seem to have developed this method of wrote learning. When we need to up-skill our staff or ourselves, what do we do? We attended a seminar. We attend a workshop in a computer lab where we mostly face the screen. We attend a workshop where we engaged in an icebreaker and then sit and listen to someone for two hours straight. We hold a meeting where we read to our staff from the manual and occasionally ask them to go around the circle reading a paragraph each. We read a manual or a memo. We sit quietly on a conference call as someone tells us information.
You’re all bored by now. You get it.
These are so common. Common, but ineffective.
Children engage their whole brain when they learn. They use all their senses. What does it feel like, sound like, smell like, taste like (seriously, everything goes in the mouth). They don’t sit down and read the manual, they jump into the project.
Children don’t have an outcome, they have an exploration.
So how to we bridge this gap? Is it possible to learn an information heavy, compliance driven lesson in a way that’s more fun?
Enter “The Sawyer Effect”. These are practices that can either turn work into play or play into work.
Our current system typically turns play into work. We set targets, hold meetings, wear suits. This places a heavy weight on intrinsic motivation and stunts learning.
If we approached our work with an element of play we would be more motivated, we would learn more quickly and retain more detail. We would be happier and our work would prosper as a result.
So, how can we do this?
Through my study of facilitation, I have really enjoyed learning about experience-driven learning environments. My business is about making dry learning material into engaging exercises based on whole-brain experiential learning.
Here are some examples:
Work: Go for a run
Play: Ski, go to a dance class, try a new sport
Work: Give a handout with changes to the policy
Play: Take the old policy and put gaps where the new information goes. Create options for the new information and ask the team to place these in the right place.
Work: Generate ideas by asking your team for suggestions on the spot.
Play: Host a mock ‘game show’ where you give a prompt and your team generate alternative approaches, with buzzers and prizes and canned cheers.
Now it’s your turn. Pick an activity you will do this week that feels very adult and like work. How can you utilise the Sawyer Effect and turn this into play?
Be brave and curious,