This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member, Judith Christian-Carter. Judith is a Director of Effective Learning Solutions, a UK-based learning services company. You can find her on Twitter @JudithELS
Are we like moths to a flame?
What is it about L&D that makes it behave like a super-charged magnetic for attracting all manner of fads and fancies? I know that all learning sectors have their trends, but over the last 25 or so years it has never ceased to amaze me just how many L&D has managed to attract. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advancement and for trying out new ideas in a sensible and controlled fashion, but the over-whelming tendency by many in the L&D profession to jump on any passing bandwagon and, seemingly without question, to embrace it whole-heartedly with an almost Messianic fervour, has always intrigued me.
For example, over the years the conversations of L&D people have been peppered with references to and support of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), accelerated learning, brain-friendly learning, emotional intelligence, learning styles, leadership styles, Belbin, Myers Briggs, body language, un/conscious in/competence, Fish, Johari Window, role playing, transactional analysis, to name but a few. So many L&D ‘courses’ are now deemed to be incomplete without a dose of ice breakers, energizers, koosh balls and games. For some the road to success is paved by fire walking, outward bound courses, rope courses, embracing the theories of Maslow and Hertzberg, doing Brain Gym exercises, hypnotherapy, and using actors and music.
What’s the harm?
Whilst some of L&D’s fads and fancies wax and wane, like transactional analysis which was a big thing in the UK back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, others, like ‘learning styles’, seem to stick around for much longer, where their longevity is often a direct relationship to the number of advocates they attract. This is not to say that any of the above are dangerous, with the possible exception of fire walking, about which I have extremely grave doubts, it is more a matter of L&D professionals using them without question on a regular basis, simply because they believe that this is what L&D is all about and, perhaps more significantly, needs.
Harm to the L&D profession
Even when these fads and fancies are shown to be myths, eg learning styles, there still remains a hard-core set of believers who react in an absolutely amazing way and deny that what they hold dear could ever be questioned! This is where I get seriously concerned, because when an idea or theory is proved to be incorrect, then why continue to cling to it? Such a stance, I contend does great harm to the whole L&D profession.
If you have time, just Google any of these fads/fancies and check-out the evidence against them.
How do we challenge such L&D myths?
For me this is the essential question. If our colleagues believe in something which is subsequently dismissed as pure bunkum, then how do we go about helping them and supporting them to put aside what they once held to be so true and to move on?
So, where do you stand on challenging L&D myths? Join in the debate and discuss this and other questions on 26th March 2015. 09.00 PST 12 EST 16.00 GMT