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3 Ways to Strengthen Learning Through Experiences

I have polled many groups and workshop participants and asked this simple question "In what situations did you learn the most?" I usually get answers back like:

"When I messed something up"

"When I had to do it over"

"When I was supported after a bad decision"

"When I didn't get what I expected"

As easy as putting a group of people in a room is, the sad truth is that creating learning in a room is not as simple as giving out information and believing they will capture every word and be transformed. If you want someone to learn something, they need to experience something similar or wrestle with the actual skill themselves. Being told what you should say, and having the courage to utter the words are two very different things.

Here are my top three favourite ways to curate learning through experience:

  1. Tie the learning to something physical: When you include movement, scent, awkward experiences, laughter, silliness, or something challenging it embeds the learning with the associated experiences and tucks that learning into different centers in the brain. Having an experience first, then finding parallels in what you are teaching is a great way to do this.

  2. Tie the learning to something emotional: Storytelling is the best way to do this. Our brains are wired to look for meaning and connections in stories, so a good story, told without sparing the emotional impact or struggle is very powerful. When did you first experience the learning yourself? What was that experience like? Can you recount it for your learners?

  3. Tie the learning to something memorable: This plays to our brain's love for shock and awe. It could be something delicious that is a surprise, it could be learning in a weird or different environment, a puzzle or brain teaser challenge, or even a simple minute-to-win-it game that gets us laughing. The learning will forever be tied to the memory of these events.

What kind of team experience would you remember most?

  • Highly interactive session with diverse activities.

  • Learning in small groups with lots of discussion.

  • Sharing an experience and unpacking it.

  • We laughed, we cried, it moved me, Bob!

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