En poursuivant votre navigation sur ce site, vous acceptez l'utilisation de cookies. Ces derniers assurent le bon fonctionnement de nos services. En savoir plus.


e-Learning Magazine Sept,2009 - Things That Can't Be Taught - What Can Be Taught

Things That Can't Be Taught

By Roger C. Schank

July 17, 2009

Roger C. Schank

Most people would agree that personality cannot be changed. Children are born with distinct personalities. Mothers often compare their children by saying, "They even behaved differently in the womb!" One child is aggressive while the other is contemplative. One is constantly talking while the other hardly says a word.

The study of personality falls into the realm of psychology, although it's difficult to be very scientific about such things. In psychology, there are five major traits, known as the "Big Five"—openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—though most individuals fall somewhere along a continuum, rather than at the extreme ends, of these characteristics.

My point here is to address an issue in education and training that's not well understood: It's not possible to teach or train individuals to do things that are not in line with their personalities. This matters because much of what we try to teach in school and train in the real world is really an attempt to alter personality.

Roger C. Schank quote For almost 25 years, I've been building what are now called e-learning systems. One of my least favorite subjects, which comes up frequently, is integrity and compliance. I'm often asked to work on this subject, and usually what's being asked is impossible.

Most e-learning providers simply do what they're asked, without pointing out—if they even know—that what the client wants won't work. Some things cannot be taught. Unfortunately, as my mother would have attested if she were still around, I was born honest to a fault. I cannot build an e-learning system that I know won't work, any more than I was able to keep myself, as a child, from becoming hysterical if my mother walked out of a store and forgot to pay.

Years later I'm still hysterical about fraudulent e-learning, namely those programs that claim to teach subjects how to alter their personality traits. Of course, they don't claim that, but that's what they're doing nonetheless.

Training People to Have Integrity
Recently I was presented an opportunity to teach integrity and compliance to the employees of a large company that bids on RFPs. Bidding is part of a legal process and the company wanted its employees to stay within the guidelines.

Not surprisingly, the guidelines included an array of rules spelled out in a complex document—typically a signed legal contract for potential bidders. One would have to read the contract to know those rules. The company wanted its employees to be trained to carefully read the contract.

Its solution was to put the employees into fictitious situations, such as: Sheila has not read the contract, and unaware, she violates a rule she didn't know existed. In turn this, failure to properly read the contract creates serious problems for the company. (Much of e-learning is presented in this manner.)

Here's another example:

You're the manager of a large project, which needs to finish on time and is over budget. Do you:

a. steal money
b. lie about the time you have spent
c. tell the company they can keep their damn project
d. carefully explain to your superior the problems that exist and let him decide.

Can people actually learn from stuff like this? Of course not, but everyone feels better after it's produced. And if this stuff makes the client happy, then build more of it, by all means.

But, if you want to address real issues, we need to discuss personality and how it relates to e-learning.

Picking the Right Answer
I have long insisted that learning has to be experientially-based. Twenty years after I proposed building complex social simulators, the e-learning community has interpreted this as telling people they're in a situation that they may or may not relate to instead of actually putting them in a realistic simulation. The reason for this always comes back to money, with something getting lost in translation.

Suppose I ask you to image yourself as a major league baseball player.

Your team is down by one run with one out in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded. What would you do on the first pitch?

a. Take the first pitch,
b. Look for a fast ball,
c. etc.

The problem with this scenario is that there is a right answer, but it depends on many variables. Do you know this pitcher's habits? How have you been hitting today? How fast is the runner on third? Pretending that we can abstract a situation with a simple description and then suggest there is a right answer is absurd. But more importantly, if you've never actually been in that situation—if you've never played baseball—your comprehension of the unmentioned details is likely to be zero. Attempting to teach anything through short situational descriptions followed by multiple choice answers is just dumb.

Why then do e-learning companies continue to build these types of courses? Answer: Because the client wants them to.

What does this have to do with personality traits? Well, I play baseball and my response in that situation would depend on my personality in many ways. It would also depend on making an accurate assessment of my own abilities. What it wouldn't depend upon is deep thought.

Professional athletes do not owe their success to superior cognitive abilities. What they do have is superior physical abilities, and they rely on gut reactions for quick decision-making instead of thinking. They do what they "know." Coaches may try like crazy to get them to think first, but you can easily spot the 20-year veteran player getting chewed out by his coach in the dugout after being asked, "What were you thinking?" Nothing. He wasn't thinking. Correct action is rarely about thought, especially when there is little time to think.

Sliding Scale
How do we teach people to do the right thing especially when the right thing is not in line with their personality?

How do we teach nurturance, neediness, aggression, extroversion, or orderliness? I hope if you've read this far you realize that we can't. People are born with these characteristics—they're not learned. The degree to which we exhibit these traits defines our innate personalities. We need to revise the question into one we can answer.

You'll never teach someone who is fundamentally dishonest to be very honest or vice versa. You'll never teach someone who is very aggressive to be passive. What you can do is make people aware of the consequences of their actions and hope they slide over, at least incrementally, on the personality scale to adjust the attribute you want to change.

How does this help your client? You can suggest hiring people to do jobs that fit their personalities. Hire hostesses who are really nice people and who are really happy to see anyone. Hire chief executives who really like making tough decisions in the face of strong opposition.

Unfortunately this article is not about hiring—it's about training.

Someone who hates details is not a good candidate for being taught how to scrutinize contracts. Someone who loves details is not a great trainee for sales. Being people-oriented is a characteristic that rarely goes hand-in-hand with being detail-oriented. It's not uncommon for companies to deal with the arduous task of training sales people to pay more attention. Telling a client to hire someone else is difficult, since detail-oriented people-persons simply don't exist. It may be a hard pill for HR to swallow, but accountants don't usually relish selling. What to do?

This is where training is needed, but not training in the traditional sense. We need to think about how the mind works, specifically how the unconscious mind learns to make decisions.

Don't Try to Change Me
If you have a strong character trait, you've probably come to grips with its up sides and down sides. Take honesty for example. People appreciate honestly, but not when they want to know if they look like they've put on a few pounds. People dislike dishonesty, unless you're taking clients to a restaurant that they think is impressive (but that you secretly hate), while schmoozing them into closing a business deal. We have mixed feelings about honesty, as we do about most personality characteristics. We like friendly people, but we dislike overly friendly people. As teenagers we often try to be all things to all people, but soon realize we simply have to be ourselves and seek out work and friends that suit us.

Personalities are not conscious. We don't choose which traits to have, and we may not even be aware of how others perceive us. We do what we feel comfortable doing, and we push on... until we meet integrity and compliance officers.

They tell us to read every detail of a contract to make sure we are in compliance. Those who are detail-oriented, fearful of making errors, introverted, and sensitive do it without question, whereas those who are gregarious, confident, and aggressive figure they can get by without it. What's an integrity and compliance officer to do?

Here's what not to do:

  1. Don't try and tell people who act naturally one way to act differently.
  2. Don't make an example of the idiot who did it wrong: "See how dumb that guy was? And look what trouble he got into!"
  3. Don't lecture on the benefits of behaving the way the company wants its employees to behave.
  4. Don't write a manual with correct behavior that no one will read.
  5. Don't build an e-learning course with multiple choice answers, one of which is "the right thing to do."

The mind is organized around experiences. We remember our experiences and index them so that we can find them later. No one knows quite how this process works, but cognitive scientists have some ideas. You can't find an experience that was indexed wrong, for example.

Correct indexing involves figuring out the goal related to an experience and the conditions that allowed that goal to be achieved or not. We don't do this consciously. We learn by doing, that is, we learn from experience and from thinking about those experiences. When we have understood our experiences well enough we can (unconsciously) index them, and when we need to draw upon those experiences, we know where to find them. (This is what I call being reminded.) Experiences get labeled when we think about them and not otherwise.

So the real question for an integrity and compliance officer is, "How can we get people to think about integrity and compliance issues?" This thinking needs be done over time in a complex way and voluntarily.

How might we do that?

About the Author
Roger C. Schank is one of the world's leading researchers in AI, learning theory, cognitive science, and the building of virtual learning environments. He is President and CEO of Socratic Arts, a company whose goal is to design and implement low-cost story-based learning by doing curricula in schools, universities, and corporations.

From: Joan Vinall-Cox
JNthWEB.ca Consultant & Sessional at University of Toronto at Mississauga
Creating Jobs that Fit
Date: 09/03/2009 12:33:08

From the other side of the picture - creating jobs to fit the people's skills.
From http://autismaspergerssyndrome.suite101.com/article.cfm/welcoming_autistic_workers_at_specialisterne
"Many people with autistic spectrum conditions struggle to succeed in the workplace, even if they are intelligent and skilled. The difficulties with social interaction that are common in autism and Aspergers Syndrome can make working in a typical group environment highly stressful for an autistic person, and their social awkwardness or unusual mannerisms often mean that they are negatively prejudged by potential employers before they can prove themselves.
On the other hand, it has often been pointed out by a number of autism researchers and experts, such as Simon Baron-Cohen and Tony Attwood, that people on the autistic spectrum often have enhanced abilities in areas such as logic, maintaining intense focus and concentration, understanding the rules and behavior of systems, visual memory, and attention to small details. It is traits like these that Sonne seeks to tap into."

From: Ken Allan
The Correpondence School New Zealand
The Whole Picture
Date: 07/26/2009 10:36:43

Kia ora e Roger!
While I agree in part with your post statement, I believe it is not the whole story. Personality is not the only reason why some things are difficult to teach. As well, my feeling is that personality is not the most important factor when it comes to learning difficulties either. There are many more reasons for such difficulties and it would be inappropriate to attribute all or even most problems associated with this to personality.
While morality and ethics appear to be cornerstones for behaviour, it's the interpretation of those qualities in the context of the environment of those who uphold them that has the most bearing. Within what may be regarded as a 'criminal organisation', despite the apparent lack of morality or ethics it is often found that these do exist within the organisation and are adhered to - sometimes on pain of death.

From: Peter J. Fadde
Southern Illinois University
Training of Intuition?
Date: 07/21/2009 05:15:24

Great commentary on "training the un-trainable". But I think we can expand our idea of what is trainable -- in particular aspects of expert performance that appear to be intuitive but are actually highly developed and automated cognitive processes. In baseball, research shows that expert batters pick up cues in the pitcher's motion and early ball flight that allow them to identify the type of pitch and predict it's location. The expert batters typically cannot articulate their pitch recognition process, but it is measurable and also trainable. Indeed, it's possible to train the pitch recognition skills that differentiate expert batters in an eLearning environment, separate from psychomotor skill execution [see research on my website: http://web.coehs.siu.edu/units/ci/faculty/pfadde/]. I wonder if similar approaches can be used to train "intuition" in something like ethical behavior. We may not be able to change people's basic honesty, but if we determine that recognizing ethical dilemmas(as opposed to knowing the right answer in a presented dilemma) differentiates highly ethical performers, then that is perhaps a cognitive skill that we can train.


What Can Be Taught: Part I


By Roger C. Schank

September 16, 2009

Roger C. Schank

Not everything we would like to teach can be taught. Similarly, not everything we would like to learn can be learned, especially if we are taking the wrong approach to learning. In a previous column, I discussed things that can't be taught. Here I discuss what can be taught.

In this two-part article, I discuss the kinds of thing we can learn. I consider how we can best approach learning by listing 16 types of learning. There may be more, but those 16 will at least cover enough ground to describe how human learning looks. The types of learning are divided into four groups: 1) conscious processes, which I will cover here in Part I, 2) subconscious processes, 3) analytic processes, and 4) mixed processes (nos. 2, 3, and 4 are covered in Part II).

Notice first that all the types of learning are types of processes. All processes require practice in order to master them. You cannot master a process without practicing it again and again. Feedback and coaching help.

One problem in such a discussion is that we are used to, (because we went to school) thinking about what needs to be learned in terms of subjects: literature, algebra, biology, political science, and so on. We think this way because school was originally organized by academics who specialized in these subject areas. They set up the lower schools up on the basis of their areas of expertise.

When I was working in AI, I began to realize that what I needed to teach the computer to do in order for it be smart was a far cry from what people thought it needed to be taught.

People assume we needed to tell the computer facts about the world-similar to the kinds of information we typically believe children should learn in school-and that these facts would make the machine smart. But what computers lack is intelligent capabilities, not information.

It's simple enough to fill a machine with information, but when you're done, the machine is only able to tell you what you told it. If that were a child, we'd say he had brain damage.

Intelligence and the learning required to create useful knowledge are capabilities. If we wish to teach people, it's important to ask what capabilities we want them to have when we are done-not what we want them to know.

Conscious Processes
1. Prediction: Making a prediction about the outcome of actions.
Making a prediction is a kind of experiential learning about everyday behavior in its most common form. It includes learning about how to travel, eat, and get a date. In its complex form, it is how one learns to be a battlefield commander or a horse race handicapper. One learns how to make predictions through experience by trial and error.

Roger C. Schank

The cognitive issue is building up a large case base and indexing it according to expectation failures as described in Dynamic Memory.

We learn when predications fail. When they succeed, we fail to care about them because most of the predictions we make are uninteresting: "I predict the room I just left will look the same when I return."

Learning to predict what will happen next requires repeated practice in each domain of knowledge. There is some transfer across domains, but not that much. (Learning to buy an airplane ticket is somewhat related paying the bill in a restaurant, but not that much. You might use a credit card in each, for example.)

2. Judgment: Making an objective judgment.
There are two forms of judgments, both involving decisions based upon data.

In the first, there is no right answer, such as deciding if you prefer Baskin Robbins or Ben & Jerry's ice cream. We make judgments and record them for use later. We find ways to express our judgments: "Ben & Jerry's is too sweet," for example. We learn what we like by trying things out. A sommelier learns about wine by drinking it and recording his reactions and thoughts so he can compare his notes about one wine to a different wine later on.

The second form is reasoning based on evidence. Judges learn in this way, as do psychiatrists and businesspeople. They collect evidence, form a judgment, and later they may get to see if their judgment is correct. When asked, they can state clear reasons why they decided the way they did. The sommelier can give reasons as well, but the evidence for taste is not really all that objective. (Of course, the evidence may be found after the judgment is made. People are not always entirely rational.)

To learn to make objective judgments, one needs constant feedback either from a teacher, or colleague, or from reality. One needs to think about what was decided and why. People who are good at this are good at it because they have analyzed their successes and failures and can articulate their reasoning. Learning requires repeated practice.

3. Modeling: Building a conscious model of a process.
We need to learn how things work. A citizen knows, presumably, how the electoral process works. Someone looking for venture capital should know how fundraising works.

Processes need to be learned for people to effectively participate in them and propose changes to them. Building a conscious model of a process matters a great deal if you want to make the process work for you. If you want to get into college, you need to understand the application and admittance process. This cannot be learned from experience in a serious way because an college applicant does not actually experience the entire process. Having it explained may not work that well either because hearing an oral explanation does not create a complete understanding of a process. Designing it, modifying it, and participating in simulations of it work much better as learning methods.

4. Experimentation: Experimentation and re-planning based on success and failure.
This is probably the most important learning process we engage in while living our lives. We make life decisions and we need to know when we need to change something.

There are big decisions, like getting married or deciding how to raise a child or whether to change jobs, and little decisions, such as changing your eating or sleeping habits.

We make decisions on the basis of what has worked before and what has failed to work. But we tend to make life decisions without much knowledge. We don't know how our bodies work all that well, and we don't really know how the world works or what it has in store for us.

Thinking about these issues and learning from failure is a pressing need all through life. Learning to analyze what has worked what has not and why is part of living a rational life. These things are learned by living and talking about our experiences-hearing stories from others' as well as hearing our own stories as we construct them-thus creating a database of stories that we can rely upon later.

We can learn about life through reading, watching movies, and other media, too. We like stories in all these forms precisely because they focus on life issues. Most conversation depends upon story exchange. The more emotional a story is, the more likely it is to be remembered. The cognitive tasks are story creation, comparison, indexing, and modification.

5. Describing: Creating and using conscious descriptions of situations to identify faults to be fixed.
When problems exist in any situation we need to be able to describe and analyze those problems. We need to be able to describe them in order to get help from people who may know more about the situation than we do. We learn to focus on critical issues.

In order to do this, we also need to be able to analyze these situations to see what was supposed to happen and why it isn't happening. Consultants who fix failing businesses do this sort of thing all the time, as do doctors when consulting on difficult cases. Learning to create a careful description of a situation is a skill which only be learned through practice.

6. Managing: Managing operations using a model of processes and handling real time issues; case based planning.
There is a big difference between learning how a process works and managing it. As we gain more responsibility, we tend to have to learn to manage the processes that we are part of. We may become managers of groups we belong to or we may want to start up our own processes. Either way we need to not only know why the process worked the way it did when we arrive, we also need to know how it improve the process. This means building up a series of cases (indexed in terms of their role in the process) about faults in a process and known (or invented) solutions to rely upon when suggesting changes. The cognitive strategy here is called case-based planning.

Part II
In Part II of this article, I continue discussing the 16 types of learning by looking at the three remaining processes: subconscious, 3) analytic, and 4) mixed processes.

About the Author
Roger C. Schank is one of the world's leading researchers in AI, learning theory, cognitive science, and the building of virtual learning environments. He is President and CEO of Socratic Arts, a company whose goal is to design and implement low-cost story-based learning by doing curricula in schools, universities, and corporations.




What Can Be Taught: Part II

By Roger C. Schank

September 17, 2009

Roger C. Schank

In a previous column, ("Things That Can't Be Taught"), I opened up the idea that there are some things that can't be taught, even though some e-learning tries to teach them. Then, in Part I of this article, I looked instead at things that can be taught and began outlining the different ways through which we learn them, which can be categorized into the processes that inform them: conscious processes, subconscious processes, analytic processes, and mixed processes.

In Part I, I wrote about learning through conscious processes. Here, I will look at the other three.

Subconscious Processes
1. Step-by-step: Learning to execute a step-by-step subconscious process .
Most of what we know how to do we practice on a daily basis. We may have consciously learned each step initially, but over time and with practice, we begin to do certain things mindlessly.

For example, we can talk and drive a car at the same time. Driving is more difficult while talking on the phone because we have a tendency to look around and change our gaze unintentionally while talking on the phone, hence distracting us from the road. When we ride a bicycle or sign our name, we are tapping into a subconscious process. Speaking and understanding our native language uses a subconscious process. When we watch a sporting event, we use a subconscious process. We react quickly and easily without knowing the details of what we're doing or how we're doing it.

When we try to consciously modify such processes, by telling ourselves to listen more carefully or watch the ball more intently before swinging, for example, we often cannot actually change the behavior.

We learn by doing in the beginning. Once we have fixed ways of behaving, we typically stop learning. To gain a subconscious process, one simply has to do the thing all the time, and it gradually improves. There's no substitute or shortcut.

2. Artistry: Improving an artistic (no defined rules) judgment.
There are no rights and wrongs in what we like, but there is general agreement about what makes a work of art great. The factors to be considered are not necessarily conscious, although for experts they typically are.

In these more subjective and subconscious areas of life and learning, it is more a matter of trying to understand what feels right than to understand why it feels right. There is a difference between being someone who can make an artistic judgment and being an art expert. One might learn to notice things that one had failed to notice before if someone takes the time to point them out. Learning to make artistic judgments is about learning to notice and appreciate one's concept of beauty, which changes when one's focus changes.

Practice is a key idea here as is the assembling of a case base to use as a comparison set. Nevertheless the comparison set is not usually conscious. One can like something because it is pleasing without realizing (or caring about) why it is pleasing.

3. Values: Making a value judgment.
Values are another subconscious idea. We don't necessarily know the values we have, and we haven't necessarily learned them consciously. We should value human life over property, but whether we do or not we only find out if the situation arises. Perhaps husbands should value helping their wives over watching football, but that doesn't mean they will.

It's tempting to try and teach values, but values are acquired so early in life and in so many subtle ways that nobody over the age of 10 is likely to be much affected by someone else tells them they should or shouldn't value.

In important areas of life, on the job and in child-rearing, for example, our values come into play. If a parent believes that nurturing her child's self confidence is of greater value than correcting his mispronunciations, she will soon find that her child speaks unintelligibly or unintelligently to others. The consequences of our values manifest themselves every time we make a value-based decision.

Nevertheless we do need to learn to make value-based judgments, and it requires that we know what our values are. Confronting a person with the rationality of the value system they have unconsciously adopted can help them change, but it isn't easy.

Analytic Processes
1. Diagnosis: Making a diagnosis of a complex situation by identifying relevant factors and seeking causal explanations.
Diagnosis is a very important skill and one that needs to be learned both in principle and in each domain of knowledge separately. Diagnosing heart disease isn't a different process in principle from diagnosing a faulty spark plug. Nevertheless a specialist is the best person to make the diagnosis in each case. Why? Diagnosis is both a matter of reasoning from evidence and understanding what to look for to gather evidence. Given all the evidence, it is easy to make a diagnosis in an area of knowledge you don't know very well. So, the gathering of the evidence is the most important part. Crime analysts and gardeners diagnose frequently, too. They all reason from evidence. They know what constitutes important evidence.

Analytic processes involve attention to details that enable the forming of hypotheses that can be tested by a variety of methods. These three pieces—determining evidence, forming hypotheses, and testing hypotheses—is commonly referred to as the scientific method.

When science is taught, teachers often dwell on the facts of science rather than the process. Diagnosis is about the process. But the process isn't of much use without domain knowledge.

Domain knowledge is often about causality. Experts know what causes an engine to misfire so they know where to look to find a faulty part. Experts also know that an engine is misfiring in the first place. Determining the cause of something is the real issue in comprehension of any given domain.

We learn to diagnose and understand what causes what consciously. We can learn diagnosis by being taught to by an expert, but it needs to be taught as part of the process of diagnosis. If you have a goal, such as understanding what is broken or has gone awry, then it is much easier to acquire information that helps you pursue that goal than to acquire that same information without that goal.

To learn diagnostic skills, we need to practice on more and more complex cases within the area of knowledge. Then, a second area of knowledge can be added.

2. Planning: Learning to plan; needs analysis; conscious understanding of what goals are satisfied by what plans; use of conscious case-based planning.
People plan constantly. Often their plans aren't very complicated. "Let's have lunch" is a plan. Sometimes we make much more complex plans. A football coach makes plans to fool the defense ("plays"). A general makes battlefield plans. A businessman writes business plans. An architect draws up architectural plans.

All these more complex plans have a lot in common with the "let's have lunch" plan. Namely, they have been used before or something quite similar has been used before.

People rarely write plans from scratch. When they do, they find the process very difficult and often make many errors.

Learning to plan therefore has two components: being able to create a plan from scratch and being able to modify an existing plan for new purposes.

The first one is important to learn how to do, but it is the latter ability that makes one proficient at planning. Planning from first principles is actually quite difficult. Normally people just modify an old plan, such as, "Last week we had steak; this week let's try lamb chops."

This doesn't sound like rocket science, and it isn't. Computer programmers write new programs by modifying old programs. Lawyers write contacts by modifying old contracts. Doctors plan procedures by thinking about past procedures. In each case, people try to improve on prior plans by remembering where these plans went wrong and thinking about how to improve them.

Acquiring a case base of plans is critical. We can modify plans from one domain of knowledge to use in another, but it's not easy and requires a level of abstraction that is very important to learn. Most creative thinking depends on this ability to abstract plans form one field of knowledge to another. We learn by practicing.

3. Causation: Detecting what has caused a sequence of events to occur by relying on a case base of previous knowledge of similar situations (case based reasoning).
All fields of knowledge study causation; biology, physics, history, economics, they are all about what causes what. The fact that this is an object of study by academics tells us right away that it is not easy and no one knows for sure all the causes and effects that exist in the world.

Because of this, acquiring a set of known causes and effects tends to make one an expert. A plumber knows what causes sinks to stop up and knows where to look for the culprit. A mechanic knows what causes gas lines to leak and knows where to look. A detective knows what causes people to kill and knows where to start when solving a murder case.

Causal knowledge is knowledge fixed to a domain of inquiry. Experts have extensive case bases. Case bases are acquired by starting on easy cases and graduating to more complex ones. It is important to discuss the cases one works on with others because it makes one better at indexing them in one's mind enabling one to find them later as needed.

Mixed Processes
1. Influence: Understanding how others respond to your requests and recognizing consciously and unconsciously how to improve the process.
Human interaction is one of the most important skills of all. We regularly interact with family, friends, colleagues, bosses, romantic interests, professors, service personnel, and strangers. Communicating effectively is very important to any success we might want to have in any area of life, but, we do not know why we say what we say, nor do we really understand how we are being perceived by others. We just talk and listen and go on our way.

Some people are loved by everyone and others are despised. It's wrong to assume that we know what image we project or that we are easily capable of altering the way we behave so that we will be perceived differently.

How do we learn to become conscious of inherently unconscious behavior? We can learn to behave differently if we become consciously aware of the mistakes we make. Watching others, watching ourselves, thinking about how to improve-- all this helps us make subconscious behavior into conscious behavior.

We unintentionally return to standard ways of acting in various situations. A wallflower at a party doesn't decide to be a wallflower; it is simply behavior she is comfortable with. If no one is harmed by these subconscious choices, then there is no need to fix anything.

But, often we treat others in ways that, had realized what we were doing, we might not have. Getting along with people is a very big part of life. Each of us has our own distinct personalities, and they often don't match with our ambitions and desires. To change behavior, we need to practice new behaviors that become as natural to us as our old behaviors. The only way to do this is to do it. Others can point out that your actions and behaviors are not in line with your needs and desires (think of a smoker who says she wants to quit), but that does not mean you can easily change. Change only occurs through new behaviors, practiced over and over. Coaching, or practicing new behavior in front of a critique, can aid in the process. Written communication is handled the same way.

2. Teamwork: Learning how to achieve goals by using a team, consciously allocating roles, managing inputs from others, coordinating actors, and handling conflicts.
It is the rare individual who works all alone. Most people need to work with others. Children, who have to be taught to "share," are not naturally good at teamwork. Sometimes, as a work-around, they will participate in "parallel play," where they play near each one another, but not together.

Getting kids to cooperate isn't easy. Usually one wants to dominate the other. There's nothing wrong with that per se. People are who they are and need to assume roles anytime they're on a team that are consistent with their personalities. One person plays quarterback and another blocks. People do not have to do the same thing in order to work together.

But they do need to get along and function as team. It's no more true of sports than the workplace. People learn to work in teams by working in teams and receiving helpful advice when a team is dysfunctional. Football coaches explicitly teach teamwork. More formal learning situations often don't, which is unfortunate. It really isn't possible to get along in the real world unless you can assume various roles in a team that fit who you are at heart.

3. Negotiation: Making a deal; negotiation/contracts.
Contracts, formal and informal, are the basis of how we function. We reach agreements in business, marriage, friendship, shopping, and at school.

Parties to those agreements have the right to complain if obligations are not met. Learning to make a contract, legal or not, is a big part of being a rational actor. To make a contract one must negotiate it. Negotiation is often seen as something only politicians and high powered business leaders do. But, actually, we negotiate with waitresses for good service and we negotiate with our children when we give them an allowance.

Learning how to negotiate can only be done by trying and learning from failures. The techniques tend to be context-independent, but, there is, of course, special knowledge about real estate and politics for example, that make one a better negotiator in each situations. Again, practice with coaching is the ideal way to learn negotiation.

4. Goals: Goal prioritization; managing internal conflicting goals; implicit, non-conscious understanding of relative importance; learned by living.
We all have goals, but which ones are more important than the others?

We know subconsciously that if there is a fire, we should try to save children before we try to save the burning building. Perhaps prioritizing human life over an inanimate structure is taught in fire safety school, but there is no human who does not implicitly understand that it. Dogs understand it!

If we want to be rich but will lose the respect of people we care about in order to be rich, we need to make a conscious determination about goal priorities. If we want to get a degree but we also want to support our family, we need to think about how to manage more than one goal that competes for our time.

Goals conflict with each other all the time both internally and externally. Not only must we deal with goal conflicts caused by our pursuit of multiple goals simultaneously, we must also deal with external goal conflicts. Children learn about these early on when they compete for use of a toy, and later for the admiration of a playmate. We compete for power, status, money, success—all external goal conflicts. Understanding how to manage goal conflicts is extremely important.

Goal prioritization can be taught again by acquisition of cases and extrapolating from prior experience.

About the Author
Roger C. Schank is one of the world's leading researchers in AI, learning theory, cognitive science, and the building of virtual learning environments. He is President and CEO of Socratic Arts, a company whose goal is to design and implement low-cost story-based learning by doing curricula in schools, universities, and corporations.

15:40 Publié dans Management | Lien permanent | | Tags : e-learning | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook | |  Imprimer | |