where they must learn something new.
We chose a virtual reality game (World
of Warcraft) because it contains many
quests that will test a team’s ability to
coordinate. Very few on the teams have
ever played this game before. Hence
most teams are rank beginners who
know nothing about the game. They
cannot move their players until they
develop touch sensitivity with the left-hand movement keys. They cannot immediately fathom the game’s undocumented complex structure or strategies
for completing quests. In such a situation, you would expect them to ask for
help from the coaches standing by or
from their peers who may know more
thing that seems so easily accessible.
In other words, access to these ad-
vanced technologies, whether for skill
development or knowledge accumula-
tion, is not a surefire path of learning.
Overwhelm, frustration, and anxiety
not only cause us stress, but they also
close us down to learning. Then we fall
into a no-possibility mood, in which we
see no chance of ever learning enough
to achieve our objectives. Often, we feel
like running away and quitting instead.
In short, there is an intimate connection between moods and learning.
Certain moods support our learning;
others block our learning. Learning to
navigate away from learning-blocking
moods and toward learning-enhanc-ing moods is at the core of developing
learning to learn as a skill.
Learning and Learning-to-Learn
Let us distinguish between learning a
skill in a domain, such as music, sports,
architecture, or programming, and
learning to learn. Learning-to-learn is a
disposition of openness to learning in
a domain. If we are not open to learning, we will not learn.
We have found that the skill acquisition framework proposed by Stuart and
Hubert Dreyfus in 1980 is excellent for
understanding how we learn skills in
4 Their framework says that
a learner moves through six stages:
beginner, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, expert, and master
(see Table 1.) A person’s progress takes
time, practice, and experience. The
person moves from hesitant rule-based
behaviors as a beginner to fully embodied, confident, intuitive, and game-changing behaviors as a master. Hubert Dreyfus gives descriptions of these
levels in his book On the Internet.
beginner, for example, does not know
the domain and must rely on others to
teach the basic rules and correct mistakes. A competent person knows how
to do all the basic standard practices of
the domain and does not need supervision to avoid common mistakes. Continued practice is necessary to guarantee progress through these levels.
But there is more to the story than
practice. In working with hundreds
of people as they sought to develop
new skills, we have seen that, in each
of these stages, people routinely fall
into unproductive moods that make
them no longer want to practice, block
them from progressing toward the next
stage, and divert them from reach-
ing their learning objectives. Despite
an initial desire to succeed, they of-
ten disengage and ultimately give up.
The key to learning to learn is to culti-
vate moods that will enable us to keep
learning, and to shift out of those that
will block learning.
Moods and Assessments
that Block Learning
We work with professionals who want
to learn how to build high-performing
teams. As part of the training, we purposely place the teams into situations