Learning is a lifelong process. Sometimes what we think we know is the enemy of learning. Learning starts with the admission (to ourselves) that we have a knowledge/skill gap to fill. That takes humility or an imminent need to stand up and teach something to a group that we respect or fear.
I’ve been talking to lots of folks about some highly valuable decision management skills that could help them dramatically accelerate their ideas into reality. Too often their response is an amazing smugness that seems to flow from an “I know that already” overconfidence. I’m 99.9% certain that they don’t possess these skills; they know lots of stuff about decision-making and think of themselves as superior thinkers, but have confused awareness of decision-making techniques with skill at decision management.
I’m not immune to this, even though I’ve been teaching all kinds of really cool stuff for 30 years. To combat this “I’m good, move on” complacency, I use a simple Learning Levels assessment to keep me honest.
I came across the first 5 levels 25+ years ago (in the context of Christian Education) and over the years added the sixth level (Reproduction) based on my discovery that real mastery of a concept/skill is proven only when you can pass it on to others. My apologies to the original creator of the five R’s; I haven’t been able to recall or find the source through web searches.
Rote (the ability to recite an idea, principle, concept), Recognition (the ability to place the concept in a structure or category scheme), and Restatement (the ability to paraphrase the concept in your own terms) are foundational, but really only make you a “know-it-all”. Relation (the ability to identify where a concept might be useful if applied) is a first step towards humility and mastery. Realization implies that you’ve applied the concept at least once with success (probably after a few failures); now you’re cookin. Reproduction (successfully passing your capability on to others) is the true test of mastery.
It’s OK to stop at the Realization step in many situations, but I’ve found that knowledge grows as you give it away. Although it’s hard to measure, your passion to mentor others and reproduce your skills in them makes you an extremely valuable resource in any organization or community.
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