problems caused by experiential learning

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For many years before I fully understood the privileges of extroverts and neuroticisms, I participated in a variety of experiential learning sessions. The direct goal of one of the sessions was to solve a problem as a team in a high-stakes simulation. The underlying goal was to make people trust you and want to work with you. In the end the most “trustworthy” people were the “winners”.

The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, but it wasn’t until I sat down and really encouraged people to gain confidence and look for ways to appear “fun to work with.” compiled a list of how incredibly struck I was. The exclusion was the entire experience.

There are many facilitation-style learning experiences designed to encourage extroverted and neurotic behaviors. Think fast. Come fast. smile. sing. run around. Dress up in funny hats. Think out loud Solve the problem quickly. Be friendly Be a risk taker. Please cooperate. Please cooperate. Please cooperate.

If you’re not a regular “other” in the workplace, it’s probably easier to participate in these types of activities, maybe even fun. But for marginalized people, creating such a situation can often lead to marginalization and an alarming lack of security. In the case of this particular emulation, keeping quiet, observing, and assuming a supporting role—which are certainly characteristics we need in the workplace too—were sure ways to be labeled as “unreliable.”

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How others destroy security

A characteristic of this type of learning experience is often the “gotcha” moment. You spend two hours trying to solve a problem, only to find that either your team didn’t have enough context to solve it, or the problem was intentionally unsolved. “Gotcha!” to the almighty advisor-facilitator! ask to say. Before explaining some complex moral story that links your learning experience with the day-to-day work in your organization.

The lack of psychological protection in this type of exercise is seriously problematic. Attempting to modify people’s behavior without making them safe first is a model destined for failure, and it only increases the pain felt by marginalized groups as reasons for reprimand rather than diversity for respect for their differences. is felt like.

according to Other and related Multimedia Journal operated by UC Berkeley: “Othering” is a term that not only encompasses many expressions of prejudice based on group identities, but it also provides a clearer frame of view on what is common in propagating group-based inequality. Reveals a set of processes and conditions. and marginality.” Othering is “a set of dynamics, processes, and structures that produce marginal and persistent disparities across the full range of human differences based on group identities.”

Unintentional involvement of participants in learning design is another issue that needs more attention. Ultimately, many experiential learning sessions are built on the premise that a team working together in harmony and coherence is the best way to solve problems and manage difficult problems in the workplace. It treats collaboration as an end goal and confidently embraces openness and compassion without considering dozens of other ways people work and deliver value to their teams and organizations.

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cooperation concept

So much life is now virtual, which means that mere presence is often overlooked as a legitimate contribution. In other words, in order to be considered as “showing,” you must be speaking something in a Slack chat, email thread, Zoom call, social media feed, etc. The concept of contribution tends to be highly extrinsic, which is then equal to value – because this is what extrovert-privileged workplaces claim is so important: collaboration.

And yet, there’s a long line of scientists, artists, innovators and professional daydreamers working in solitude, just waiting quietly in the wings of history to prove that you need to say a word to make something like that. There is no need for someone who can change the world.

There is certainly a place for collaboration and teamwork. But presenting them as the only way to solve problems does a great deal of harm to those who do well on their own, who don’t need to be spoken often or loudly enough to offer valuable things and Those who may prefer accuracy over speed to get the job done. Did right.

The truth is that Not all cooperation is good cooperation, Ambiguity, group ideas, lack of clarity about roles, and talking too much are all ways collaboration can fail. Understanding who is doing the work and who is riding the coattails can also be difficult and lead to interpersonal conflict that ultimately damages projects, teams, and relationships.

Ways to create a more inclusive learning experience

To ensure that your learning experiences are truly inclusive, it is important to design learning and training with high standards of psychological safety and to consider the impact on the most marginalized people in the room. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Have all participants been made to feel safe? psychologically safe? Mentally, physically and emotionally safe?

  • Have you screened people in high-pressure simulations to make sure none of them suffer from social anxiety, PTSD, sensory processing sensitivity, or any other mental health problem that can trigger triggers and meltdowns?

  • Is the only way to “win” this activity through extroverted and neurotic behavior?

  • Is the only way to win through cooperation?

  • Are people potentially discouraged from using their strengths, which may not align with this high-pressure situation, and are, therefore, made to feel less or less than others?

  • Does the activity itself call attention to auditory processing disorders and people with sensory processing disorders?

  • Above all, what is the learning objective that requires high-pressure/experiential/simplification-learning experiences unlike any other medium for learning and behavior change?

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In my 20-year career as a learning and development professional, I have often heard coworkers say that having true education hurts. There are two problems with this approach to learning. One, the world itself is a cause of trouble for many people who do not fit into the privileged categories, so why do we need to make them even more uncomfortable while learning? “No pain, no gain” is an archaic practice that even the toughest athletes no longer subscribe to. Two, there are many safe ways for people to stretch, flex, and grow without making them unsafe. good learning experiences Good User Experience Backed by Expertise This can ensure that objectives are met without losing half (or more) of your participants along the way.

Keeping people safe is kind. It’s a pity to keep the expectations clear. It’s a pity to reduce the ambiguity. Teaching people in ways that respect their strengths and strings is not only kind, it also helps you achieve those learning objectives and your L&D team honing the hard work your L&D team put into the first-time learning experience Is. Security and inclusion are essential for truly effective learning experiences.

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