2Experiencing Learning: Emphasize Skill over Information

Do you do things because you have learned how to do them, or have you learned how to do them because you did them?

This, and similar questions about how humans learn, has kept philosophers and professors busy for centuries. I appreciate their desire to understand the details of how we learn. The simple answer to the question, especially when applied to product learning, is probably “Yes.” Think about something you do with relative ease, like riding a bike or heating up a cup of coffee in the microwave. You do it because you learned how to do it, but you also learned how to do it because you did it. It is the continuous tango between thinking and doing, the DNA‐like weave between the possibility and the encountered, and the scissor blades of could‐be and has‐been that create learning in human beings. Both must exist for true learning—the change in one’s knowledge, skills, values, or worldview—to take place. But one—information—tends to get emphasized in the classroom, while the other—experience—gets left to chance. If your training is going to be effective, that must change.

How Does One Develop a Skill?

I challenge you to think about a skill that you can do now without really even needing to think about. Here are a few examples.

Exercise 2.1 Example skills

  • Using the remote control
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Setting your alarm clock
  • Downloading a smartphone app
  • Playing a sport
  • Changing a car tire
  • Painting a room
  • Making ...

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