Personal Learning Experiences

The purpose of this section is to share your learning experiences to use these experiences as the basis of reflection as you understand learning theories.

Learning is about reflection therefore think about your various learning experiences over the course of your life.  These experiences form the basis for understanding and interpreting learning theory.

To complete this activity, think about 2-3 learning experiences, preferably:

  1. a memory you recall from when you were learning something in elementary or middle school;
  2. a memory from when you learned something in high school or college or university; and
  3. an experience you had learning in a professional setting (first job, current career, etc.).

Answer the following questions for each of the three learning experiences listed above.

For each of the 3 learning experiences above that you recall, describe in 4-5 sentences a memory you recall from when you were learning something by answering these questions for all 3 memories:

  1. What was the topic you were learning?
  2. Who was teaching you the topic?
  3. How did you learn the information or skill?
  4. What type of information/ skills were you learning? E.g. history or skill like using Microsoft Office

Why were you learning the information or skills?

Here are my personal memories and some reflections. As you write this down for yourself, you will find some interesting observations………….

Experience 1 – Junior school

Learning how to write:  I recall our teacher always writing out a new set of letters on the blackboard. We then we had to practice them in special writing books and take them home for practice.  When you were proficient enough at individual letters, you could progress onto cursive writing. This was viewed as more grown-up than regular print and a recognised advancement when you were allowed to progress. The “why” is interesting – the ability to express oneself, share ideas, critically think…these were not things we discussed. It was just part of the curriculum and a basic life skill. Years later, my son was a prolific storyteller from a super early age and would scribble down his stories like a mad professor and then retell them. If you wanted to read his stories, you needed him to translate as it was not illegible. His teacher forced him to slow down and practice doing his letters properly. This, in my view, stifled his creativity – he never came jumping in with his pages and pages of writing again…..So the purpose of writing for me is clear – to enable creativity and ideas to flow. Perfect writing is a by-product and has not ability to guarantee that there are good ideas on the page.

Experience 2 – high school

Learning maths: We has a very good maths teacher (good because you got good results in her class and she was known for no nonsense and hardworking environments). She would walk in..there would be absolute silence and then she would spend 15-20 minutes explaining a maths concept on the blackboard. You then opened up your maths book to the exercises and were required to work through them independently. You could ask her questions. At the end, she would give additional homework to continue the practice. Why was it needed? It was a core subject and all “smart” people did maths. Those that were deemed not smart enough did typing. Typing as the alternative is interesting – it was an all girls boarding school and I suppose the bias was you could be someone’s useful assistant – Netflix Mad Men, set in 1960s New York City, this award-winning series takes a peek inside an ad agency during an era when the cut-throat business had a glamorous lure with an interesting take on the role of female assistants in the agency.


Experience 3 – professional life

Learning to be human-centred: WHY – because the company I worked for said consumer-centricity was at the heart of the business strategy. I wanted to understand what it meant to be human-centred and so I started to ask others  in my office what they thought it meant. No one could truly “walk the talk” of this term, “consumer-centric,” therefore I decided to make meaning of it for myself. I supervised a group of interns for a couple of months, choosing the theme, “what does consumer-centricity mean for you?” The interns did a great job interviewing front office, back office and middle management employees to get an understanding of what they believed consumer-centricity was.  I had not realised it then but I was  already applying design thinking methods and techniques – going out to understand / discover, coming back and synthesizing, coming up with prototypes to test assumptions and getting feedback throughout. The results were “interesting” – the people on the front line really understood the meaning of consumer-centricity, middle management hardly connected and it became even more distant as you progressed up the executive command and control hierarchy. The insight was enough for me to want to learn more about how I could alter my own mindset. I knew when I walked through the corporate doors of my office, I could not think like a consumer, even though I was one.

My mission was to re-orientate, at will…to have an  “outside-in” mindset not an “inside-out” mindset. I then researched online to find out if others had “worked it out” and found David Kelley’s book on “Creative Confidence” – this book, Creative Confidence, was all about how to be “human-centred” and completely changed my worldview in an instant.

I read the short stories to my family as we drove to France on a ski trip. It was life changing for me. I completely changed my perspective and it was not long after this that I read Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset– a book so many people have yet to even think about discovering which still surprises me today. There is also an amazing TED talk by Carol Dweck on the power of a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.

Following reading Creative Confidence, I looked for courses on how to be human centred and found some of the best courses on mindset, leadership and innovation from one of the largest online learning platforms in the social sector, +Acumen. The Introduction to Human-Centred Design course forces you to find a group of at least 4 people to do the immersive 8-9 week course properly. Undeterred, I recruited some friends from my village, my husband and my 9 year old daughter. Another colleague of mine wanted to learn as well so we skyped him in each week for the weekly 2-3 hour session. The process of learning was really life changing. I started a social innovation learning group in Cambridge. So many interesting people came that wanted to learn to be consumer-centric / human-centric. I also learnt it is hard to keep people motivated and coming. Whilst they recognised learning / skills gaps, they don’t always truly commit to a goal. Here is a slideshare of one of our cohorts and their learnings: Cambridge Social Innovation meetup group

My goal was to become human-centric – it’s a way of life for me to constantly improve and become better everyday. I want to augment that with futurism – a necessary set of skills for people to imagine the possible futures and to take the steps to collaborate and co-create it.