One of my self-organizing work groups is talking about learning styles this morning. Here’s part of our discussion (and yes, as usual, the long-winded one is me). If you’re a learner, trainer, teacher, consultant, employee, manager, administrator, instructional designer, researcher, or self-org work group that has an opinion on this subject, let me know what you think. I’d love to share it with my group.

Group member 1: “I wanted to briefly follow-up on our conversation about learning styles (is Kolb all wrong?).  I was listening to Primal Leadership by Goleman et al. as I drove to S_____ on Saturday, and one thing they pointed out is that learning leadership behaviors uses a different part of the brain than learning a piece of data, for example.  Leadership learning takes emotional arousal and repetition.  Hence when I said, “I need to be sweating in order to learn something,” I was definitely on to something.  I might not need to sweat to learn a new recipe, though J.  They did reference Kolb in a positive way, too – although I didn’t apparently learn that very well. I’d have to read/listen again to figure out that reference.” Best, D

Group member 2: “Speaking of learning styles, here’s the link to the article I referenced last Friday. (And… we include the KOLB in one of our classes at _________ 🙂

Group member 3: “Interesting question about Kolb. I don’t discount Kolb since I’ve learned a lot about myself and others over the years, especially doing the activity with various groups and also watching my own styles change over the years. That said, I’m no longer involved in formal training/teaching (where Kolb mattered more to me) and my work has given me a different perspective on learning styles. I believe I learn and become more being part of groups of learners than as an (or from) individual expert(s). That is, I believe I’m learning more being with you guys than from what any other individual expert on the planet could possibly teach me.

You know that the groups I study are spontaneous groups, created from within, to get work-of-the-moment done. All I’ve studied (18) appear to be highly diverse by nature and tend to learn/teach themselves (and often nearby others) everything at once (technical skills, soft skills, leadership skills, more about their own nature as individuals and groups, and a variety of other things not directly related to the work the group is doing) just by being a group of learners learning together. What comes to matter most to these groups is the group itself–and what they were able to be and do as group–which is more than what they could be and do as individuals. So personally, I’m no longer focused on individual anything (learning styles, attributes, etc.). I pay attention to these amazing groups as a whole and to what I personally can be doing to become and stay part of them.

You got me thinking about us–you, me, J, and R–at last week’s meeting. Did our individual learning styles appear to matter? In the moment, if we weren’t learning, we made changes. I saw several of us redirect the conversation at points, people suggest something new for the group to do, and someone suggest the meeting be over when she was ready to be done learning. From my perspective, in these groups I’m able to see other individuals’ strengths/styles in myself just by close, prolonged, honest exposure to people. For example, we talked about how you learn best when you sweat [are physically moving]. I remembered a time when that was true for me (the ropes-type learning in my doc program) and how quickly I learned about everyone else’s strengths and weaknesses in that moment and also my own. I wondered if we shouldn’t make one of our future meetings a walking meeting. I can also see that we have new/better/different strengths and styles as a group than we have as individuals. We can be more adaptable together. So individual learning styles don’t matter to me to the extent they used to. As these groups, I can have all of the learning styles and then some! That said, if individual learning style mattered a whole lot to one of my group members, then it would also matter to me. Thanks lady. I think I just wrote this week’s blog entry. 😉 Where would I be without this group?!” – L