So a funny thought has been swirling around in my head lately.
It’s because I’ve been in a few situations with people outside my field of Learning and Development and on various conferences unrelated to this field, who are now talking about the importance of professional development.
Given the pace of change that we’ve all experienced this year, it’s finally surfaced the discussion about ensuring people are skilled for potential changes in their industry and workforce.
All of a sudden, everyone seems to be talking about learning and development.
That’s learning and development with a small ‘l’ and a small ‘d’.
That’s learning and development from the perspective of you, the person doing it.
But strangely, no one is talking about Learning and Development. (The teams in companies who have been responsible for their organisation’s learning strategy from many years before. You may know them as the “Training Department” or those people who constantly send you requests to do your mandatory training).
Businesses are now talking about learning and development (the small l & d) as if it’s a new thing. All of a sudden it’s the rage to talk about:
- Skill development
- Professional Development
- Education & Training
- Personal Learning
- Communities of Practice
Recently I was involved in a couple of breakout sessions with Microsoft Ignite and also a speaker at Swarm 2020 and the discussion of the sessions were pretty much centred around skill development and the need for helping people to learn how to learn in this new world.
Looking at other sessions as well, it was pretty evident that I wasn’t the only one with this interest.
In my sessions, there were many other people from a variety of backgrounds such as Marketing, IT and Business but very few to none from an education or Learning and Development background who were now sharing their own perspectives on what learning IS and what it’s about and sharing myths and folklore that aren’t backed by evidence such as:
- Belief that you need a learning management system (nope!)
- Belief that Microsoft’s new ‘Hybrid Learning’ system is the be all and end all (nope, it’s just one of many different ways that learning can happen -oh BTW, it’s not new).
- That Microsoft Learn that will be linked to MS Teams will be the ‘be all and end all‘ (the solution to closing business performance gaps – er, no, once again, it’s just one of many different ways that ‘education’ can happen that will sit within the business tools).
- Learning Styles (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic Learners) – Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
- Myers Briggs Type Indicator – Spare me!
- TMI, DISC and a whole heap of other pseudo psychological type testing
- 10,000 hour rule to become an expert – NOPE!
- People remember 10% of what they read, 70% of what they do etc – WRONG!
(Also don’t mistakenly think that all people in Education and Learning and Development are across the learning myths. One educator dared mention Learning Styles (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic) and I had alarm bells ringing so loudly that it wasn’t right for me to cut them off when so many people were listening and watching them speak. It presents an interesting position – do you say something publicly or do you express your concern about these myths to them privately? I’ve been doing the latter but it can get awkward especially when the other person may think you come across as a know-it-all. Do I let sleeping dogs lie??)
10 misunderstandings of how we learn. Look at those percentages…yikes.
— Blake Harvard (@effortfuleduktr) December 7, 2018
Obviously he’s selling something. I’ve been noticing the increase in business people talking about learning and development. If we thought L&D had outdated ideas, there’s entire world of people who think like it’s 20 years ago.
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) October 7, 2020
Ugh, yes! And the bad thing is they seem to be shot-callers pic.twitter.com/iWwHKpELak
— Jeff Kortenbosch (@jeffkortenbosch) October 7, 2020
— Zsolt Olah (@rabbitoreg) August 11, 2019
Well anyway, this got me thinking.
For many years, I have been sharing articles, papers, links and blog posts and also having wonderful conversations about the people in the field of Learning and Development who did see the need for change and who have made wonderful advances in helping their organisations move ahead by dispelling and debunking these myths. I think we’ve come to the point that we understand and accept that some Learning and Development departments can offer real value here.
But what about the companies who may not have such people in their organisation?
Or, those companies and business who may be swayed by how THEY learn – or how they USED to learn – believing that this is the best way for everyone else?
Seeing all the chatter online now about this being a critical issue for business, just when I thought we were getting somewhere with bringing Learning and Development to this new mindset, we are now right back at the beginning again.
This time, we need to be mindful that when we see these myths touted as fact, to call it out and offer suggestions and alternatives. Learning myths are like zombies like this article states.
— Jane Bozarth (@JaneBozarth) August 11, 2020
I’m afraid it’s going to be the strongest and loudest voice is going to be the one we’ll have to fight over to be heard given the amount of people – and vendors, social media influencers – who are now scrambling to get into this learning space.
Our fight against dispelling myths in learning isn’t over – it’s just begun.
This is what happens when we don’t fight the myth of preferred learning styles…the myth grows and morphs into bigger, stronger, more ridiculous myths.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. pic.twitter.com/nnwaoKxdn3
— Blake Harvard (@effortfuleduktr) June 9, 2019