Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thank you, 2017

This has been a good year. Not all good, of course. Everyone's life has enough pain to keep it real and mine is no different. My most favorite kitty, Cleo, left this world and many months later, I still look for her in the bay window in my office. I used to squeeze three cat beds into the window and now there are two. :-( 

Redd (Minnie's brother) has taken Cleo's place on my lap. But he refuses to let me read on the couch. I can watch television there, as long as I have a certain blanket on my lap that he likes to lay on. But no reading. Books evidently distract me too much from my petting duties. The cover of the book on attention and technology that I'm currently reading has teeth marks in it.

Redd and Minnie
There have been other problems, but I've learned (lately) that sometimes you just need to sit with them and let them be. I'm a doer and that's truly hard. But often, problems are opportunities to see how much you have and what you don't have that you don't want.

I've been thinking a lot about where I was last year at this time. Many people know I have chronic migraines and they're not easy to live with. I didn't realize until recently that migraines can actually do damage to your brain. Nothing I'd done in the last thirty years had really improved the situation, and the pain and other effects became more frequent. The drugs had pretty horrible side effects as well.

This year, in desperation, I started Angela Stanton's migraine protocol (her book is on Amazon). Nothing else worked well so my expectations were low. But only two to three months later, my migraines have lessened by by 90% (and I believe they will be gone, eventually). I am slowly reducing my meds and feel better than I have in years.

Two years ago, I started writing two evidence-based training books. My first efforts were not loved (by any means) by the people who agreed to review them. I was depressed at my results. But after a few months, as my brain subconsciously worked on solutions to the problems the reviewers described, I thought of how to not only start again, but do it better. The result has been two books (so far) that people have valued. As a result, I'm going to start on the next two in 2018.

I have deep gratitude to the early reviewers, who planted the seeds of more valuable efforts. It's not always fun to learn you're on the wrong track. But if you push through, you can learn a great deal from failure. Especially if you're open to what you don't (yet) see.

Most years, there is a song that fits the year (for me). This year it's Happy People by the country-pop group, Little Big Town. Here's the youtube video. (Hope it makes you smile.) My two favorite lines:
Happy people don't fail
Happy people just learn

Thank you for reading what I write, telling me where I need to do a better job, and giving me the opportunity to do just that. I hope your 2017 was also a chance to grow and learn and see what is absolutely terrific. I think that's the key to sanity.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

L&D's fake news

L&D has its own version of fake news: fads, made-up theories (and how to implement) in conflict with what research or science says, and people selling ideas using devious means. I just had the latter happen. Just had an email sent to me that said the following (copied directly from the email):

Hi Patti

Just wanted to let you know we featured you in our recent post: 
Why Employers Should Consider Multiple Learning Styles in Their Training Processes

Someone used me to push learning styles for training? Noooooooooo.  As you likely know, the research is clear that learning styles aren't "a thing." (See Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence by Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, and Robert Bjork to learn more.) Like so many ideas in training, it's based on people trying to make money off of the less knowledgeable or made-up insights that have nothing to do with what the research says. In fact, research shows that quite often, what is best for people for learning is the opposite of what they prefer. And this makes sense as isn't what's best for you nutritionally the opposite of what you love to snack on?

I get why they used my name. People are likely to tweet or tell others about articles that include their name. See, I just did! I hope I don't see my name associated with an article about neuroscience and learning.

No, we AREN'T learning a lot from neuroscience that we can use in learning. It's cognitive science, not neuroscience that most of these people are talking about. But calling it Neuroscience or Brain Science gives it the woo-woo factor. Except it's a lie. John Medina, the author of Brain Rules tells us we simply don't know much yet from neuroscience we can use. The research that might help us understand how neurons impact learning (fMRI studies) have been recently have been called into question for having software that creates errors.

What sciences can we count on to tell us what works? Here's a short list to start (there are many others).
Attention science
Cognitive science
Reading comprehension
Education psychology
Behavioral psychology
Information design

I'm annoyed that L&D practitioners buy the crap that others (including our own practitioners) put out there to part you from your money and gain recognition for their efforts. You must learn to tell truth from lies in order to do what's needed for good training results. But that's a good thing. Thinking for yourself is always a good thing.

I asked the company that sent that email to take me out of the article. Will let you know if that happens.

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