[A] man cannot search either for what he knows or for what he does not know[.] He cannot search for what he knows–since he knows it, there is no need to search–nor for what he does not know, for he does not know what to look for.
When it comes to philosophy, Socrates knows his stuff – and he has been credited with being the first to succinctly describe what we have come to know as the learning paradox.
This proves that in order to truly learn something, we have to already know what it is we want to learn – and that the first stage of learning is understanding that learning needs to be uptaken.
It’s a little mind boggling to follow the circuitous thinking that takes us through this understanding – but grasping this concept is one of the most important steps in any learning journey – whether that’s realising that those little squiggles on a page actually hold meaning, and beginning to learn to read, or grasping that businesses require a vast range of skills and experience to thrive, and learning how to effectively manage a team of versatile individuals to enhance their unique skills to the benefit of the whole.
When we want to learn how to best achieve our goals, we first need to understand what those goals are, and what steps need to be taken to achieve them. Breaking down our process like this not only means that we create a learning path, but it teaches us which steps take us to the next level, and what we have to understand before we can progress. We learn what we need to go on to learn.
This also gives us a measurable and practical ladder to success – a way to chart our progress, and to compare the level at which we began to the levels we go on to achieve – which is enormously beneficial as a way to boost confidence and self-worth along this journey, as well as a practical guide.
Learning can be daunting – and realising that we have much to learn all the more so, which is why the best educators understand not only the topic being taught but also the psychology of learning, the ways in which people process and absorb information, the importance of application of learning, and how to support that learning process from beginning to end.
This grasp of psychology can be attributed to something we call emotional agility – to the ability to understand people, to respond to their needs, to celebrate their strengths and to bolster their weaknesses. Emotional agility is what makes the difference between someone who has the right technical knowledge but no leadership skills, and someone who is able to effectively lead even through extreme or challenging circumstances.
In October our Principal Consultant, Liaquat Lal, will be presenting on this very topic at the World of Learning conference – where he will be able to explain in much more detail what this learning paradox is, what it means, and how it is factored in to the way that we teach – and to the things that we teach, in our range of leadership development programmes.
In the lead up to that event, Liaquat has written an in-depth article which introduces his topic – emotional agility and the learning paradox – which you can find through the World of Learning website.