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How to separate learning myths from reality

The critical window of childhood

The critical window of childhood

There is an assumption that in the first years of life the vast majority of the brain’s development occurs, and after this period, the trajectory of human development is more or less fixed. 
The truth is that experience can change both the brain’s physical structure and its functional organization— neuroplasticity. Also, mindful meditation can produce structural brain changes significant enough to be picked up by MRI scanners.

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How to separate learning myths from reality

How to separate learning myths from reality

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/how-to-separate-learning-myths-from-reality

mckinsey.com

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Key Ideas

The critical window of childhood

There is an assumption that in the first years of life the vast majority of the brain’s development occurs, and after this period, the trajectory of human development is more or less fixed. 
The truth is that experience can change both the brain’s physical structure and its functional organization— neuroplasticity. Also, mindful meditation can produce structural brain changes significant enough to be picked up by MRI scanners.

The idle-brain theory

Irrespective of what a person is doing, the entire brain is generally active and, depending on the task, some areas are more active than others. 

People can always learn new ideas and new skills, not by tapping into some unused part of the brain, but by forming new or stronger connections between nerve cells.

The left/right brain hypothesis

The theory that most people are either dominantly analytical (and left-brained) or creative (and right-brained) is false.

The two hemispheres of the brain are linked and communicate extensively together; they do not work in isolation. 

Recent studies suggest that engaging all the senses in a variety of ways (for instance, audiovisual and tactile) can help employees retain new content.

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Styles of learning

The concept of learning styles--such as visual versus verbal or active versus reflective--is commonplace, but it turns out that there is little evidence to ...

Right-brained or left-brained

Research doesn’t strongly support this concept of the lateral brain--or that people have a dominant side of the brain that dictates how we learn.  

Even in simple actions, both hemispheres of the brain are engaged. 

"Exercises" that will make you smarter

"One minute playing Mozart will make your baby a genius, the next crosswords will fend off your mental decline"... The research behind these claims is weak. 

Learning methods are not so much based upon how the brain is structured, but based upon our experiences. Our experiences do affect brain development. The wiring of the brain depends upon the experiences we have.

Leadership Development

Leadership development is viewed as a current and future priority. Despite efforts to produce and nurture new leaders, only 7 percent of senior managers think that their companies develop global le...

Overlooking context

Many training initiatives assume that the same group of skills or leadership styles are suitable without considering the strategy or organizational culture of a company.

An excellent leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another. Focusing on context means equipping leaders with two or three competencies that will make a distinction to performance, rather than a list of leadership standards that is of no specific benefit.

Separate reflection from real work

Companies face a challenge when it comes to planning the program's curriculum.  Adults typically retain only 10 percent of what they hear in classroom lectures, but nearly two-thirds when they learn by doing. 

The answer seems straightforward: tie leadership development to real on-the-job projects. While it is not easy to create opportunities that simultaneously address high-priority needs, companies should strive to make every major business project a leadership-development opportunity as well.

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Re-reading and highlighting

Both of these study strategies are relatively ineffective. Passively reading the same text over and over again won’t do much for recall unless it’s spaced out over time. 

Different learning styles

Systematic studies of learning styles have consistently found no evidence or very weak evidence to support the idea that matching the material to a student’s learning style is more effective.

Right or left-brained

There is no conclusive evidence that people preferentially use the left or right hemisphere.

Certain functions are processed more by one region of the brain than others, and this is known as lateralization. But we all use our entire brain equally.

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