A New Way

of Learning

Accelerated Learning

For approximately the first 4 hours of the Adventures’ weekend, the job of the facilitator is to retrain the participants on how to learn using methods referred to as accelerated learning. Most people have been taught with the old Industrial Age techniques of memorization, producing the right answers, and passing multiple-choice tests. There is a great deal of fear of getting the wrong answer and the humiliation that goes with it. To go from knowing the right answers to possibility takes some reframing. According to Stephen Covey, the “law of the school” has students try and figure out how to get the best grade with the least amount of effort, to cram for the tests and final grade, to figure out the system, manipulate the teachers and get a degree, not an education. Participants in Adventures, for the most part, come in with this type of learning style.

Accelerated learning, on the other hand, teaches both the mind and the body. The body is a vehicle for learning; the sit-and-stay-still approach common in traditional teaching methods has had negative consequences for those who cannot sit still. There are many ways that the body affects the mind: it produces chemicals for the brain to operate properly and the body’s movement helps the circulation of the blood. The body is made of molecules and is affected by the molecules themselves, as “even molecules think, have memories, and have emotional lives of their own as they move throughout the body/mind and interact with it”. So not only is the body–mind impacted by our thoughts and beliefs as has been discussed earlier but, the movement of our bodies can alter our molecular chemistry.

Meier explained that the aim of learner preparation is to:

  1. Get learners out of a passive or resistant mental state.
  2. Remove learning barriers.
  3. Arouse learners’ interest and curiosity.
  4. Give learners positive feelings about, and a meaningful relationship with, the subject matter.
  5. Create active learners who are inspired to think, learn, create and grow.
  6. Get people out of isolation and into a learning community.

What we are trying to accomplish is total individual involvement while creating collaboration with an openness and diversity. The goal is to motivate and create a sense of joy and excitement for learning. It is imperative that we find new ways for the growth of the individual as well as generating the well-being of the community.

Accelerated Learning Strategies

Meier (2000) described different learning strategies that are important to advance learning:

  1. A Positive Learning Environment: People learn best in a positive physical, emotional, and social environment, one that is both relaxed and stimulating. A sense of wholeness, safety, interest, and enjoyment is essential for optimizing human learning.
  2. Total Learner Involvement: People learn best when they are totally and actively involved and take full responsibility for their own learning. Learning is not a spectator sport but a participatory one. Knowledge is not something a learner passively absorbs, but something a learner actively creates. Thus, accelerated learning tends to be more activity-based rather than materials-based or presentations-based.
  3. Collaboration Among Learners: People generally learn best in an environment of collaboration. All good learning tends to be social. Whereas traditional learning emphasizes competition between isolated individuals, accelerated learning emphasizes collaboration between learners in a learning community.
  4. Variety that Appeals to All Learning Styles: People learn best when they have a rich variety of learning options that allow them to use all their senses and exercise their preferred learning style. Rather than thinking of a learning program as a one-dish meal, accelerated learning thinks of it as a results-driven, learner-centered smorgasbord. 5. Contextual Learning:People learn best in a context. Facts and skills learned in isolation are hard to absorb and quick to evaporate. The best learning comes from doing the work itself in a continual process of “real-world” immersion, feedback, reflection, evaluation an re-immersion.

Creating the joy of learning through a positive learning environment is the main thought that Meier’s challenges through the use of accelerated learning techniques and strategies.

Utilizing Action Learning Techniques

“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.”

As this proverb suggests, we learn better when we are involved in an active experience. Experiential training can take on many different methods or games that are part of the quantum leap experience. So, that is how Adventures is run; participants play games to learn about others and to become more self-aware.

According to Thiagarajan, these games need to be designed and choreographed. This is not traditional classroom training where the students are partially engaged with lectures and note-taking. Students learn more by interacting with each other. That is what Lowder meant when he said that when the facilitator talks the training stops.

Because of the need for interaction and play, in Adventures we use games, activities, simulations, exercises, case studies, experiential learning techniques, role-plays, and active training sessions to create the game. The definition of an instructional game or an activity is a structured process that involves participants interacting with one another to share their experiences and insights.

Events that are accompanied by emotions result in long-lasting learning. Boredom is not conducive to effective learning. Games and activities that include appropriate levels of cooperation within teams and competition across teams add emotional elements to learning.

Action learning involves a combination of action and reflection by a team solving complex, strategic problems in the participant’s real world. Below are paraphrased descriptions of select games and activities that can be used as outlined by Thiagarajan and Parker:

  • Openers (also known as icebreakers) are activities conducted near the beginning of a session.
  • The case method involves a written account of a real or fictional situation surrounding a problem. Participants work individually and in teams to analyze, discuss, and recommend appropriate solutions and to critique each other’s work.
  • Coaching activities involve an individual (the coach) supporting the learning or performance improvement of another (the coachee) through interactive questioning and support.
  • Creativity techniques provide a structure that enables participants to solve a problem or to utilize an opportunity in a creative fashion.
  • Interactive stories are fictional narratives that involve participants in a variety of activities.
  • Jolts lull participants into behaving in a comfortable way and deliver a powerful wakeup call.
  • Role-plays involve participants assuming and acting out characters, personalities, and attitudes other than their own.
  • Structured group discussions use a self-contained instructional format designed to help team members learn together.
  • Simulation games help participants experience an event close to the real experience without experiencing the real event itself.
  • Closers are activities conducted near the end of a session.