UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
Isn't it amazing. It appears that the more I read the more I understand what I already know. I
used to think that I was the only person who believed that the more you live, learn, and apply your skills within a certain
paradigm, the harder it is to adopt ideas from outside its confines. For example, while working with the armed forces I became
more and more convinced that the reason why I could get no traction on certain ideas or issues was because I was looking at
the problem from outside the box, while those I was trying to convince were only capable of looking at it from the confines
of the box. Like when one takes a potted plant and on removing it from its pot finding that the roots have curled around themselves
into a tight mass, so too have been the tightly held onto beliefs and ideas of the military. Once out of the pot the roots
could break free and spread. The question was, how to get these roots free of the pot, particularly when it was these roots
which created, and tightly held onto, the pot in the first place.
Anyway, this was one of the
concepts that I felt that I alone have been struggling with, but it turns out that like many good ideas this issue has been
attracting attention right around the world. Research into neuroplasticity reveals that not only has my intuition been correct
but that there are also ways in which such thinking can be changed.
Dr Norman Doidge (The Brain
That Changes Itself) and Barbara Arrowsmith-Young (The Woman Who Changed Her Brain) are just two authors who reveal the successes
achieved through individuals rewiring their thinking processes and learning better ways to learn. Both show through research
and experience that the way we think and act is linked directly to the way our brains are wired. If we continuously think
one way then our brains will find it difficult to let us think any other way. Parents know this, which is why they tell us
that it is wrong to constantly criticise young children because they will grow up thinking only negative thoughts about themselves.
Motivational experts tell us the same thing: Think positive and you will act positive, believe and you will achieve, and so
on. These are not old-wives tales or money-making hocus pocus, but scientifically proven truths.
more research it became apparent that there are many lessons here for trainers and vocational educators. Particularly in the
way we structure our training events to challenge age old paradigms and out-dated thinking. You see time and time again we
come across examples of organisations more appropriately structured to take advantage of the skills and knowledge that
people bring to their work, where the purpose and philosophies (ie, the Vision and Mission) behind the organisation determines
the functions required to achieve the most ideal future. But regardless of how idealistic our training is, if the tired old
Taylorist thinking which runs the organisation doesn't reflect new ideas then the roots of change will be like the potted
If trainers and vocational educations are dedicated to the concept of making learning
real and relevant then they must frame all of their efforts around first removing the plant from its confines and freeing
the roots. Only then will real results be achieved.
Since beginning my research into Neuroplasticity,
and the impact of these theories have on learning and development, it has become clear that one of the reasons why there are
so many barriers to the message I'm trying to get across is because many people are so ingrained with their current narrow
view of vocational education and training that they can't assimilate any new ideas about it.
tried this idea out during a couple of projects I was managing with the military where training and education is consistently
based within the confines of what is already known, taught in ways which are comfortable and familiar, to people who are quite
often hesitant about adopting anything new or unique. From the outside observer's perspective it was like watching an upright
washing machine: Everything tumbled and rolled around and around, but it did so within an extremely restricted space. And
while everything came out clean, nothing really changed.
The same happens in organisations - public
and private - in which training and development is conducted using the same models that have always been used.
So, do the ideas behind Neuroplasticity and learning work? I am totally convinced that they do. I would encourage
everyone to consider why their organisation has never progressed, and then look very closely at the way in which learning
and development is carried out. If it is the same old programs, taught the same old way, by and to the same old people,
then it is guaranteed that nothing will change.
As a very wise person once said: You cannot
expect things to change when you apply the same thinking which created them.
Think about it.