change works . . .

I want to talk about learning

To quote Carl Rogers, "I want to talk about learning." But not the lifeless, sterile, futile, quickly forgotten stuff that is crammed in to the mind of the poor helpless individual tied into his seat by ironclad bonds of conformity! I am talking about LEARNING - the insatiable curiosity that drives the adolescent boy to absorb everything he can see or hear or read about gasoline engines in order to improve the efficiency and speed of his 'cruiser'.

The quest for a learning experience that really works

So my quest has become a sort of hunt for the component parts of something which will of course be greater than the sum of its parts and which can grow into experience for learning rather than a theory of learning.

Learning is a process which we approach with the conscious mind while the unconscious mind is doing most of the work. It is the unconscious mind that does the remembering: a vital element in successful learning; allowing the conscious mind the luxury of recall. How then can we use the conscious mind to best effect in order to give the unconscious the best chance of gathering information, retaining it, and making it available at the appropriate time?

Since we access all information through the senses, it seems to makes perfect 'sense' to suggest that maximising sensory involvement in an experience might maximise possible learnings from it. Whether we are primarily visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners, how much could we enrich the process by developing and exercising all sensory channels when the opportunity arises?

A full VAK-OG experience

Try this for yourself next time you find yourself encountering something you are interested in or feel the need to know; make it a full VAK-OG experience:

  • VISUAL See it in as many forms as possible – Watch any video material available eg online, on DVD, look out of the window, sketch, colour your notes, draw a mind map, find a logo, a photo or magazine cutting . . .
  • AUDITORY Listen to any recorded material available. Read your notes out loud, record your notes and listen to the recording. Anchor the experience to a particular sound or appropriate piece of music . . .

  • KINESTHAETIC Incorporate some movement into your learning. This could be as simple as getting up and moving around the room while you run over significant points in your mind. If you are making notes try using a soft pencil or fountain pen on good quality paper and notice the difference. Sit on a soft cushion, a firm cushion, in the warm sun . . .
  • OLFACTORY it might be the smell of wood smoke, the perfume of jasmine or the tang of a freshly cut lemon does that extra something…
  • GUSTATORY As I type this article I am sipping iced water with a slice of lime as an alternative to my usual coffee.
  • Now experiment with compound VAK-OG experiences such as sketching or doodling while you watch a video, playing music while you make notes, walking as you listen to a CD, sipping a cool drink and / or burning a scented candle as you practice any of the above.

    Feel the heat of it

    Learn about the sensory experiences that make a difference to your own learning. That adolescent boy didn't just see or hear or read about gasoline engines. He smelled the oil, tasted it in the air and felt the heat of it. That's the learning experience I'm after.

    This article first appeared on the Coaching Connect Website.