Change Writer

be the change you want to see

Month: July 2014

How You Can Stop Giving Forgettable Talks

Every teacher wants their students to remember what they’ve been taught. A recent study show’s that that’s rarely the case. Here’s how you can teach to be remembered…

6284181389_36af02b058_z
Photo by cybrarian77

I love that this blog is about change. Change is what humanises us.

Think about any narrative you have ever read, or watched. A truly captivating character is one that changes. At the the heart of every good story, whatever the surrounding circumstances, there is a person who changes.

And yet, despite being captivated by the idea of change, most of us feel the futility, or at least the slowness, of change in our own lives and those around us.

Forgetting is the norm

According to a recent study the highest performing pupils in the UK forget around 60% of the basic concepts taught in the months between taking the entrance exam and arriving to class.

I think this is the sign of a deep seated misunderstanding in our culture and our age about learning and knowledge.

Imagine this: the brightest doctors, teachers, government leaders and scientists of our next generation being taught to re-call information but not being given the skill of integrating that information into anything deeper than rote repetition.

In a culture obsessed with information, we are perpetually informed, but we have lost of virtue of allowing knowledge to transform us.

So how do you teach people in a way that they transcend being simply informed, to being transformed?

1) Make A Connection

Your paper qualifications are just that: pieces of paper. They might gather you a room full of people, but it takes true human emotion, relational connection, to truly impact people at the deepest of levels. Put simply, you have to be more than smart, you have to be likeable.

2) Listen To The Learner’s Need

Often teachers arrive with a pre-conceived notion of what the learner needs. Instead, start by assuming that the learner is the expert in her own scenario, and provide only the tools that assist her in fulfilling the need she has defined.

3) Encourage Participation

Inviting the learner to be part of the discovery, is the most transformative experience you can offer someone in a learning environment. That is why good science teachers don’t just tell you what happens when you throw potassium into water, they let you do it and watch the glass bowl explode! When we invite people into the experience of discovery we ignite their imaginations that the world is bigger than 2D concepts.

 If you want to be someone who teaches to be remembered, be sure to listen hard and engage your students’ imaginations in the learning process.

The Perspective of Travel

If you’re feeling stuck in the same old rut of desiring change, but not knowing how to get started, perhaps you need a change of scenery.

Movement gives us greater objectivity

I remember as a boy, pedalling up the closest, highest mountain I could find and looking down at Cardiff, the city I once called home.

As I watched the glimmering windows and faint strands of traffic, the flashing of the light at the top of the highest building, and even the shore of England in the distance, I felt liberated.

All my problems and frustrations and crises came dislodged.

I could focus on bigger things: ideas, theories, priorities and principles.

These bike rides helped me to learn what really matters to me, what makes me tick.

Somehow when our bodies start moving towards unfamiliar territory, and experiencing unfamiliar things, creativity gets unleashed.

It cultivates humility and open mindedness

When we get exposed to new people and new stories, those things shape us.

We realise that not everyone looks at the world the way we do.

Not everyone perceives our motives as purely as we do.

Some friends of ours live in a village in Zambia, situated alongside the great Zambezi, several kilometres from The Smoke That Thunders (the Zambian name for Victoria Falls).

When they first moved in, they noticed that every village had hollowed out concrete blocks that were being used as tables, benches or were just abandoned alongside the path.

On closer inspection they realised that these concrete blocks were water filtration systems. The water passes through sand, and in the process 98% of the bacteria is removed.

These filters offered a solution to the stomach aches and illnesses that the villagers caught from drinking straight from the Zambezi.

But the people already believed they knew what made them sick.

Their ancestors were unhappy with them.

The water wasn’t causing their sickness, so why would filtering it prevent it?

This taught our friends, who were working closely with the villagers, the need for slow change that is combined with transforming world views.

Instead of trying to solve the villager’s problems directly, they began by forming relationships of trust.

Through those relationships, they could offer new ways of looking at things.

Over time, the villagers themselves can initiate changes based on their new perspective.

It gives us appreciation for what we have

When I first travelled Europe, I Inter-railed with my friend Tim.

We travelled from the Czech Republic to Rome, often sleeping on trains to avoid the cost of hostels.

I would stuff my backpack into the bottom of my sleeping bag, and my passport into my pants to avoid the fate of the many travellers we’d heard about: stuck in an unfamiliar place, with no ID, no money and no way home.

I lived off bread and McDonalds milkshakes, to stretch my budget as far as it would go. And I cut the trip short in Rome because I was so homesick I felt compelled to get back to my Sister’s birthday.

(She later commented on how gaunt my face was from my meagre diet during those weeks.)

Although it was a chaotic trip, it gave me fresh perspective on myself. I realised that there was pain ahead. There would be goodbyes. I realised that I would be doing much more travelling, and because of that I’d better get used to change.

Moving gives perspective in a way that staying doesn’t.

You see your family and friends with greater fondness, your workplace with new compassion, and sights and sounds that have become mundane spring back to life.

As I prepare to leave South Africa, its beautiful people, life changing experiences, and awe-inspiring scenery, I eagerly anticipate the new perspectives that await me.

© 2014-2017 Jonathan Morgan