I recently took up a mini MBA in Marketing course because I wanted to be better at what I do, and stay up to date with any new developments and trends in the marketing space. It took me quite some time to even consider embarking on further studies. Adults are challenged with balancing the responsibilities of everyday life against the barriers to learning. Lack of money, time, and opportunities are only some of these barriers, making corporate learning a challenge for many of us. In my case, juggling life, work, a young family, and finding the time for self-care can sometimes be a struggle.
Some believe learning becomes harder as you age as opposed to children who are better learners. It might be that adults' brains are clogged up (like an old computer with a lumbering hard drive) with past experiences, muscle memories, and old habits to cut through in order to process and store new information. However, our brains have the ability to change in structure or function in response to experience, which is called neuroplasticity and thus learning can be effective in all stages of life . Most importantly, a continuous learning activity contributes to increasing neuronal regeneration and avoiding the effects of ageing.
Andragogy are methods or techniques used in adult education since the '60s and are now commonly known as Adult Learning Theory. The principles behind this theory believe that adults must want to learn, they will learn only what is necessary, adults learn by doing while focusing on problem solving, experiences (good and bad) affect learning outcomes, learning is best in informal situations, and adults want guidance but also to be considered partners in the learning process.
A podcast episode of All In The Mind explores why being a beginner is good for you. Sometimes, when we already have pre-conceived ideas, they get in the way of learning, and we are unable to adapt as well. Unlearn by Barry O'Reilly (a past book on our book club) talks about exactly that. On how as leaders we need to let go of past experiences and relearn new skills in order to break through to growth. Learning multiple skills simultaneously can be beneficial for healthy older adults as it increased the adults' cognitive abilities.
Learning takes place in many forms. Sometimes we all have to learn due to the changes in our personal life including having children, taking on a new role at work, or global changes such as living with a pandemic. And there are times where we seek deliberate and structural learning such as learning a new hobby, undertaking a personal development course, or obtaining a mini MBA.
In my experience as a mother as well as a student, both children and adults learn more effectively when there's fun and enjoyment involved. Children are better learners when play-based learning is applied. A child’s sense of self, others, community, and all areas of their development is shaped by play-based learning. In Primed To Perform, one of the direct motivators to perform is play. Play occurs when you’re engaging in an activity simply because you enjoy doing it. Curiosity and experimentation are at the heart of play and people intrinsically enjoy learning and adapting. This is probably why I'm enjoying the MBA more so than 15 years ago when I studied Marketing at a university. The content is more directly relevant to me now that I'm working in the discipline, I have autonomy as to when I learn the materials (being in the right headspace), years of wisdom has taught me to be more appreciative of the opportunities I have, and the professor who is delivering this Mini MBA is hilarious! Mark Ritson delivers his MBA in a way that is engaging, fun, and easy to understand and digest. Most importantly, I'm having fun!
Overall the adult learning experience should be developed taking into account the learner’s priorities, motivation, learning needs and objectives, previous knowledge, experiences and competencies, and potential areas of development. The learning effort should be focused on experiences, themes, and real life problems. It needs to adopt a situational and practical approach instead of a theoretical one, should include concrete tasks, and indicate a usable application that is transferable to daily life. Moreover, we should ensure education for anyone is an enjoyable, rewarding, and effective experience.
Our next Leading Engineering Teams workshop on December 6-9th is half full. Tickets are available for the next ten days: https://blackmill.co/workshops/leading-engineering-teams. Here is what Charles has to say about the workshop:
“Blackmill’s Engineering Leadership workshop was one of the best courses I’ve attended. While it contained general leadership and management learnings, the specific software engineering focus plus both Elle and Lachlan’s industry experience was invaluable. I also found that the teachings focused around empathy clearly aligned with my own values. Highly recommended for those just starting their tech leadership journey to seasoned leaders looking to sharpen their axe.”
Charles Vallance, Engineering Manager Sharesies
Elle and Lachlan have embarked on a little adventure to Israel to visit family and friends (whilst working). On the way over, the airports were close to empty, there was plenty of legroom on flights, and they arrived safe and sound. They will be back down under at the start of the new year.
Elle was interviewed by our good friends at Lookahead. Check out her answer to the toughest work moment. That’s authentic leadership right there! https://lookahead.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/t/7391F027BF70B9F42540EF23F30FEDED/41FF43A7D8E8F1A516FB8100885F948E
Last week was World Philosophy Day and we want to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of philosophical reflection. Philosophy stems from human’s natural tendency to be astonished by themselves and the world in which they live in. It is a form of “wisdom” that teaches us to reflect, to continually question well established truths, to verify hypotheses, and to find conclusions. For centuries, in every culture, philosophy has given birth to concepts, ideas, analysis, and through this has set down the basis for critical, independent, and creative thoughts.
Get it wrong for me: What I need from allies — what Megan Carpenter needs from allies is to learn more and educate themselves, to change their individual behaviour, and to change the system around them for the better.
Culture matters — “To first approximation, everyone thinks “that will never happen to me”, but from having watched many people join organizations where they initially find the values and culture very wrong, almost no one is able to stay without, to some extent, absorbing the values around them; very few people are okay with everyone around them looking at them like they’re an idiot for having the wrong values.”
Eigenquestions: the art of framing problems — Coda refined and formalised the techniques they use for decision making, and they teach these skills as part of onboarding new employees. Mainly this is about framing the questions in a way that is more useful.
How to interview remote developers — if you don’t have time to read time, the summary is: ensure the candidate has everything they need, ensure you are prepared, defined what the values and good answers you are looking for, and do a post-interview analysis. Almost sound like how any other interview process should be done.
What do you do? And what do you like about your work?
I own and run an IT Consultancy, Alembic. We started in Feb of 2017 on the premise that we can help companies grow better digital businesses. My favourite part of the job is working with our team of people within the company. I find myself constantly challenged by new ways of thinking and new ways of working. I also love working with our clients to create teams that knock their socks off.
What aspect of your work do you find most challenging?
Balancing the details of managing operations with ensuring we are delivering to our strategy.
What are you passionate about?
Outside of work I love spending time with my family and friends (when we are all vaccinated), cooking on lovely sunny days, and getting my hands dirty in the garden.
I also love watching my 9 year old daughter discover herself and the world around her.
What are recent accomplishments you are happy with?
Surviving an entire term of homeschooling and planning for another one with a positive attitude – living in the now with my family.
What is one mistake that you will never make again?
Underestimating the power of at-school learning and the amazing people who administer and deliver it.
How do you manage stress?
Deep breathing, my yoga mat, and sitting in nature.
What is the best advice you can give?
I have no idea. Advice is specific to the situation and the person. Maybe everyone is going through something that you might not be able to imagine, so always be kind.
What one thing would you change about our society?
One thing? Ha.
What are your goals or aspirations for this year?
To figure out what the new norm is for our communities. It would be great to see my Mom in the States. I miss all my US family and it really is a struggle to feel so far away from them.
200g cherry tomatoes, fresh or lightly roasted
30g blanched almonds (1/2 cup)
12g basil leaves
50g grated cheese, preferably Pecorino Romano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a mix of these two cheeses. If you wish to make a dairy-free option, replace the cheese with some nutritional yeast.
2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
30g olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until you get to your desired consistency.
Thank you for showing an interest in our newsletter and we hope that you enjoyed the read. Feel free to contact us if you have any feedback, a burning question, or just a recipe that you would like to share.
Until next time, keep learning!
Everyone at Blackmill