How to encourage learning and development, lessons from parenthood!
Much of my understanding of facilitation has been gleaned from parenting
As a parent I wanted my children to make ‘best use’ of their potential. I had over 30 more years of experience in this world than them: 30 years of learning to impart, but no experience of parenting. How could I cram my learning into them so they could have a great start in life? Looking back, it might have been more valuable for me to ask myself;
“Why should all my learning be relevant to them? Have I learned all the ‘right’ things?”
“Should I be pushing my learning into them or enabling them to learn for themselves?”
Fortunately realisation dawned quickly. My children were learning not because of me, but because of them and I was learning through them. They were inquisitive and inquiring, soaking up every morsel offered, examining it from every angle and finding ways to use it that either I’d long forgotten or dismissed. My children gave me an opportunity to learn from them, to learn about how I thought about things, how I saw the world and how I prejudged and assumed so much. They reawakened the concept of questioning that I had pushed back into the recesses of my mind.
Through their questioning of me, they taught me that constructive questioning is, without question (?!!) the most underutilised and undervalued quality in the adult world.
Listen with an open mind
Of course questioning in isolation isn’t helpful. Questions need to be in context and phrased appropriately. Those who are questioned need to be encouraged to answer and their answers listened to with an open mind, explored and developed. Quite simply, questioning lies at the heart of learning and progress.
Keep learning and developing
So the next time you are faced with a young child who is asking you question after question, think about how you are responding. Are your responses encouraging the child to ask more questions so that they can keep learning and developing or are you closing them down so that you can get on with something ‘more important’?
I wonder, as a trainer, facilitator or leader do you (subconsciously?) try to close down adults too?
If you have any specific queries about facilitating, please get in touch, we’d be happy to help.