What makes learning
'good or bad'?
I was asked to do a survey recently and
one of the questions made me sit back
and think. The question was what were
my best and worst learning experiences.
Simple really, but then on second
thoughts, not so.
Naturally, I wanted to ask some clarifying
questions to try and narrow the field but there
was no one to ask. Having thought about the
context of the survey, I decided it had to be
during my working life but this now covers
several decades and a vast number of
learning events. So how was I going to
By a learning experience, it could mean
almost anything from a three-week classroom
course to a conference presentation; they are
all experiences. That these can be memorable
for both good and bad reasons is a given.
Furthermore, the memory of the event might
not be anything to do with learning and could
be something else altogether. But this wasn't
getting me any closer to an answer. Did the
question want to know which learning
experience was the most or least effective for
me? That reduced my options a little but
effectiveness is usually a difficult thing to
measure and something that you don't
always do yourself.
I decided I was being far too literal (I have
been told that I do this often) and that I should
just go for those learning experiences that, in
my professional opinion, were good or bad.
But there were so many of those. A brief
'lightbulb' moment can be a great learning
experience. Do they count? Describing them
in terms of why they were good is also a
different matter altogether. All you could say
was that I learnt something once and that I
remember what I learnt but that's about it.