Sunday, 15 March 2015

A for attitude in Learning

If you look up KSA and it will tell you it stands for Knowledge Skills and Abilities and is a vital part of training.  Now call me off the mark here but I’ve always thought that KSA was a useful enough idea but that the A was wrong.  I think that knowledge and skills combined are pretty much the equivalent of abilities so KSA seems a bit like AA which is only useful if you have addiction problems (or car issues I guess).  Problem for me is that whilst starting knowledge and skills of your audience is a good starting point, the most vital part of learning something knew isn’t the learner’s abilities, it’s their attitude and this other A by far out-shadows any other letters or acronyms that you care to throw at learning.

It’s important for trainers and L&D professionals to keep in mind that attitude is king when it comes to learning.  If you do nothing but inspire the right attitude you’ll put people in the right frame of mind for learning to take place.  Let’s remember we can’t force learning (yes, you can force training, but not the learning) but we can set the right environment and that’s largely about the ‘mental’ environment and setting the scene in a way that’s conducive for learning.  It’s also key for us to remember that if someone has the wrong attitude they probably won’t learn regardless of how good the training we offer is.  In those cases don’t waste your effort on improving the training, the only thing you can really do to improve the situation is address the attitude.

Can you address the attitude?  Yes and no I guess, there are times when it doesn’t matter what you do you can’t reach some people, but I’m keen to know what people have done in this area?  As part of my learning out loud stuff that I’ve been putting together recently, it’s key to recognise that I don’t have all the answers myself - how do you adjust people’s attitudes to allow learning to place?  All I know is that a poor attitude is like a brick wall that a learner is deliberately placing to block the journey; for me I would try to find a way around, over or working on another plane so that barrier doesn’t stop us; that’s easier said than done.  Particularly if you have more than one or two learners and more so in a technology enabled situation where you may not come face to face with the learner at all.

My take on attitude is that it’s one of the two vital things you need in learning, the only other vital part is the desire or need to learn something.  When you combine the right attitude and the right motivator for learning then everything will fall into place.  I guess that’s pretty much true of anything where you have attitude and motivation :)

If that’s true, why do we spend so long on other parts of the learning design, when always need is the right ‘environment’ and motivators to make it work?  Another open question, but my initial take is that the problem is that both the attitude and motivation are the two things a ‘trainer’ has the least control over - perhaps this is why more and more we see learner-centred learning playing a greater role.

I’ll try and come back next week with some ideas that others have shared with me, please Disqus below, share your thoughts and let me know :)