Jun 6, 2011

When Learning Happens on its own...

This is a happy weekend to start this BLOG as it is the weekend of birthdays for my kids. Also, I feel I am in the positive spirit of things and the powerful forces of nature are pushing me along a journey - a journey that I am enjoying.

Talking about learning - the focus of this BLOG, my son got his report card over the weekend. Getting marks for any final exam is always stressful when you are on either end of the spectrum - and luckily he is on the correct end of the scale. In two subjects he got way below his expectations. I could see him visibly distraught and sad. For the first time in his life, he had given final-exams and was learning what annual exams were like. He had set high expectations of himself on his own. He was self-analyzing all that could have gone wrong (including the obvious "they made a mistake in the grading"). He also realized that his recent acquisition and subsequent distraction due to the iPhone was a contributing factor. No intervention was required for him to learn from this. I was glad that this lesson were happening at an early age instead of when he was 16 or 18 or even later.

Many a times, as parents, coaches, mentors and bosses, we deliberately intervene in the lives of people to ensure that people learn from each encounter. We repeat the "moral of the story" many times. Silence is sometimes as loud as the noise and has as much or more significance. Providing a comforting stance, a strong shoulder, lots of respect actually goes a long way for lessons to be lasting instead of the mandatory "I told you so" or "you should have done this or that" and the extreme "if you repeat this you are in for trouble". Punishment for failure is almost never a way to teach anyone to perform better. Sometimes, we need to watch our children, our employees, our proteges, our mentees learn from their own encounters in life. I advocate and an active hands-off policy - where you are actively watching and deciding not to intervene or even speak. You guide and coach when necessary - only when the direction is wrong and when learning is not happening on its own. Otherwise should watch and marvel when learning is happening on its own.