With a background in education and the knowledge that learning is ‘for life’, I knew that I was particular as to the type of environment that I wanted to work in. I needed one that would give me the opportunity to progress and continue to encourage learning. A new career option, in a new organisation would have to ‘feel right’. I wanted to find a company that shared my passion for learning and development. A job where I could continue to promote learning for everyone.
To my delight I found SK Chase! I could see that they were a like-minded company; investing in their people, encouraging them to learn continuously, to try new opportunities and supporting them as they do.
Eight years ago I had taken a bit of a risk and changed the direction of my career, away from organising International Business Incentive Events to the world of lecturing in Event Management and Business. This was going to be very different to anything I had done previously; having to walk into a full classroom with a large group of Business Studies students is quite daunting. At first I naively thought ‘I can do this, I am used to dealing with clients and managing large groups of people at business events’ – I soon realised that I had lots to learn if I was going to do this job well. A colleague suggested ‘take out your contact lenses and pretend you are in a small meeting’, but it was going to take much more than this to get a group of people to learn!
I returned to University to study and gain a qualification in Education. I needed to research, research and research different learning methods. I was able to use my knowledge of the business world and look at ways in which people learn and how best to encourage people to learn. I was particularly interested in how a good trainer/lecturer is able to change people’s perception of learning. This was when I was introduced to the concept of ‘life long learning’ and how we are able to ‘learn to be intelligent’.
This concept describes how a good trainer/lecturer can help a student understand ways to improve their intelligence. However, I had my doubts. Would I really be able to make a difference to my student’s outlook on their intelligence? I jumped at the opportunity of attending a training session with the educational theorist himself, so I could question how to actually do this.
The core of the theorem is that there are two types of people, those who think that their IQ is fixed and those who think that they can grow their IQ. The chart below shows that there is an equal split of people who think they are one or the other and 15% of people who are unsure.
People who think that they are able to grow their IQ believe that they have the ability to learn. They have the mindset that they need to put time and effort into learning and realise that if they face difficulty in what they are trying to learn, they will try another approach.
42.5% of people however, think that they have a ‘fixed IQ’. They believe that their intelligence is set from birth and that there is very little that they can do about it or improve it. They think “either you can do it with little effort, or you will never be able to do it, so you might as well give up on it”.
I feel passionate about changing the ‘fixed IQ’ people’s perception of learning. There are ways in which this can be done in an education environment, the work-place and life in general.
So, how do we encourage people to move from being of a ‘fixed IQ mindset’ to wanting to grow their IQ? There are a number of key messages:
- New experiences are character building and can help to improve intelligence
- Intelligence can be cultivated over time
- Effort is required for learning
- When we make an effort, our brain grows ‘connections’ – these make us smarter
- The brain is a muscle, which strengthens and needs to ‘work out’
- Always show ‘analogies’ in learning e.g. Why are we learning this? How will it improve my job or life?
- Find a mentor or role model who has a ‘wanting to grow IQ’ approach to life
These messages are excellent training tools, in both education and business sectors, for all levels of the workforce. I feel privileged that I am now able to use my knowledge of business and learning with SK Chase as Training Manager, continuing to try to improve people’s outlook to being intelligent!
I remember one occasion, with a group of lower level students who thought they had ‘fixed IQ’s’ and were not particularly passionate about learning anything new, as they did not think they could. I asked the question ‘how many Chelsea Footballers can you name?’ Each one was able to name numerous players, tell me how they were spelt and where each player originated. As a lecturer, I was able to give them the confidence that they had learnt these names and spellings, and surely they can use this as a platform to believe that they can learn new things – they can improve their intelligence.
In the right environment, the world is our oyster. We can continue to learn and develop alongside doing the things that we love to do!
(Information on research from Carol Dweck’s Theory of Motivation and Educator Geoff Petty)