lightbulb(Learning. Image from canva.com)

I’m excited to present here what will be the first of a regular monthly blog on therapistlearning.com on matters of learning. This opening blog gives a taste of the learning-related themes that we’ll be exploring.

If you’re here, it might be stating the obvious to suggest that you will be a therapist, with an interest in learning. I’m the same, though I have a particular interest and background in the business of learning itself. Good content is obviously crucial, but our skills as learners are important too. I deliberately call learning a skill, as this implies that it is something we can always get better at and be pro-active about, rather than simply hoping it happens because we have been trying to learn things.

In our recorded discussion about learning, Mike James and I touched on many of the themes that this blog will explore in the future, so you might find it helpful to give that a listen.

Just as there are with many aspects of therapy, there are different and sometimes conflicting theories about learning. We will be exploring these and drawing out from them what is most helpful, particularly in getting us to look more closely at ourselves as learners.

It is easy to make assumptions about ourselves as learners. These often stem from past experiences, things we absorbed that then became unchallenged ‘truths’. I hear them frequently –“my memory’s terrible”, “I’m useless with numbers”, “I’m a visual learner”, “I’m too old too learn this stuff now” – feel free to add your own. Sometimes the origins of these potentially limiting self-beliefs go back to chance remarks made by teachers or other adults. Ok, we won’t put everyone on the psychiatrist’s couch here, but a quick example: I have treated and coached some very good adult runners who hated PE and sport at school because they were told, or somehow made to feel, that they weren’t any good at it or it wasn’t for them. Sometimes they’ve reached their 30s, 40s or older before realising this has been an arbitrary, negative influence on their beliefs about physical activity. For reasons of balance, it’s fair to point out that many people have had the opposite experience, but I suspect you know what I mean.

Memory(Connecting Lines. Image from Science Photo Library, canva.com)

We’ll challenge some common assumptions directly. For example, there is not one place in the brain where memory happens and you either have a good one or a bad one. Memory involves strategy, so it may well be your strategies that are lacking, not your brain itself!

The brain will feature regularly and will get at least one full blog of its own. I’ve written extensively about brain myths. Some of these are harmless, some distort our ideas about learning and others are misleading and often exaggerated to promote a bewildering array of products. I have a used water bottle that I use as a prop in lectures and seminars, as this water apparently improves a specific aspect of brain function (and it’s one of a range!). Therapists are taking an ever-increasing interest in the brain’s role in the perception of pain, so we really should be aware of the brain myths and of how our learning can benefit from the huge field of brain research.

The first thing we’ll explore, in the next blog, is planning for successful CPD, looking at some fundamental questions such as needs, interests, time, clients, sources, qualifications and costs. We’ll build that into a framework that will help you cut through the noise of all the resources that clamour for your attention, as well as starting the roll out a set of tools or tasks that will help you get the most from all the TLC content.

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Keep learning,

Jon