Abstracted learning – a wasted construct or a concrete teaching methodology?


Learning always has to be relevant to the job, the organisation, the industry and the market. Rubbish. Education is about developing the mind, not just stuffing the memory.


Our job here at Maguire Training is to teach the delegates of our high profile clients to be able to do something differently tomorrow that they are not doing today. That could be applying new knowledge, implementing a new skill or adopting new behaviours and to do that it is often much more useful to use abstract teaching tools to excite the imagination, draw out instincts and encourage more cerebral analysis.


We use every teaching methodology that is available to us when it is appropriate and, most importantly, we assess the suitability of teaching methodologies against the learning styles of the delegates we are teaching set in the context of the precise learning outcomes we are seeking to achieve. That means we spend a lot of time in the here and now…real life case studies, examples, role-plays and so on. But sometimes, in order to make the leap in the minds of the delegates from the impossible to the possible we have to use abstract tools and techniques that show delegates the importance of their intuition, core intellect and life experiences.


An example…so-called Black Swan events are unpredictable crises which even the most sophisticated of risk management systems can’t account for. A group of delegates that have never managed a business through such a crisis cannot learn about the emotional tension, high pressure decision making and shear exhaustiveness of the experience – let alone predict their own psychological response or that of others. But re-create such an event using, for example, survival workshops, strategy games or our special event at the National Space Centre, and it is possible to place delegates under similarly high levels of emotional stress that they are preparing for in real life – using an abstract simulation.


The most important aspect of using this kind of methodology is not the simulation itself. No, it is in the observational feedback in which lessons can be learned. Highly qualified clinical and organisational psychologists form the Maguire team are able to deconstruct the behavioural and psychological responses that individuals and teams display in these simulations and reconstruct improved strategies for managing future crisis events in real life. This is highly skilled feedback and can itself be challenging as it goes right to the heart of our DNA. However, to prepare for the worst we must often find our low points and learn to navigate more effective passages through similar events in the future. The good news is that in our simulations, ultimately, there is no risk and only positive learning outcomes.


If you’re interested in learning styles, events or the psychology of change then check out these links:


Or just call us on 0333 5777 144.

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