How We Learn with guest Lauren Waldman ‘The Learning Pirate

What’s the best way to really learn something?
Are learning styles still a thing? What about speed reading?
What’s complete BS in accelerated learning and what actually works?
What does Neuroscience tell us about how we should teach or learn?
Why is Lauren called ‘The Learning Pirate’?

If you’re curious about the answers to these questions and the latest developments in learning science, you’re going to love this episode of Speaking of Influence with The Learning Pirate Lauren Waldman.

Lauren specialises in translating the latest scientific developments in neuroscience and learning science to implementable action we can do to improve our own learning and our teaching of information too.

There’s a lot of BS out there in the personal development world, so we get into what’s real and what isn’t. As someone who is fascinated in this area, it was great to separate the science from the pseudoscience and speak with a real expert. Lauren really knows her stuff and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Who’s ready to be an even better learner?

Discover more about Lauren and learning science at https://www.learningpirate.com/ and maybe connect with Lauren on Linked In

Don’t miss our next episode with former cult member Brooke Walker. We discuss cult recruitment, why people stay, the damage they do and Brooke’s personal healing journey afterwards. It’s powerful stuff.

Transcript

 

John Ball
Welcome to the speaking of influence podcast with virtual business speaker presentation skills and influence Coach John Ball. Remember to like and subscribe. The speaking of influence podcast is uploaded and distributed using Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout makes it really easy to get your podcast started and out to a wide audience with lots of tips and useful tools to help you on your way. If you’re interested, check the link in the show notes and start your podcast today.

Welcome back. I am really happy to have with me my guest today because we’re going to be talking about an area that I find incredibly fascinating. I certainly hope you will as well, I think it is and I don’t think we can really get a better expert in the area of scientific learning. This is her expertise. She is known as the learning pirate so we’ll be asking more about that. name is Lauren Waldman. Welcome to the show, Lauren

Lauren Waldman
Such a pleasure John

John Ball
It’s really great to have you on and we when we had our pre-call chat, that could have been the podcast episode itself. It was so interesting talking to you. And I think one of the things that was so interesting for me was just getting into understanding how people learn best and that we don’t generally take very much time out of our lives to stop and think about how we learn as much as we might think about what we learn. And so I know that this is going to be a good call today. One thing I have to start by asking you though is why the learning pirate what’s the significance of the pirate for you?

Lauren Waldman
So I feel like that’s like the most asked question like it’s, you know, the pirate comes in a variety of forms. I’m convinced at this point in my life that I was probably a pirate in a past life. It was just kind of part of the little child in me that loves adventure and curiosity. And you know, I think that has a lot to do with learning it’s when you’re chasing your curiosities because you’re excited to learn or to know something. And so that’s kind of where the pirate originated from. And then I think you know, when I started learning pirate it became more of a symbol of changing the way things were done a little more aggressively you know, and plus it’s you know, now I’m just known as the pirate I don’t think anyone knows my real name anymore

John Ball
That’s all great fun as well and it’s a nice playful name for what you do and maybe doesn’t get straightaway about the seriousness pilot, but that’s good because we want people to come to this with to come to learning with a sense of playfulness and fun about it, because we learn better when we’re having fun, right?

Lauren Waldman
Yeah. And I think that it’s that sense of curiosity. You know, if you when you’re watching children as they’re learning and as they’re exploring their worlds for the very first time that is Just inherent curiosity is something that, you know, we tend to lose a little bit as we get older. And for me, I just, I guess I just never did. I’m, you know, I see something over there. I’m like, ooh, what is that? So, and that’s also where the pirate came in from is giving us that sort of, you know, permission to have fun, because learning should be fun. And you know, we’d like it to be fun, but not taking away from the fact that learning is incredibly challenging and it’s hard. But, you know, we can chase our curiosities, and enjoy that part of the adventure.

John Ball
Who’s your favourite pirate? Real or fictional?

Lauren Waldman
Oh, man. Um, so, oddly enough, there were five female pirates back in the day. And I’m gonna forget the name of the one who there was Grace O’Malley. And she was one but there’s this one and China. And she had at one point, I think the largest fleet and the largest crew of any part. And so I was just like, Oh wow, that’s I respect that because back in those times, that would have been unheard of. So I have to look up the name but she was phenomenal. So although she pillaged and did all the bad things.

John Ball
You’ve done a bit of homework on pirating, that’s for sure. When it comes to learning, you have a bit of a journey yourself a bit of an adventure for getting into this whole area in the first place, which I found fascinating and a real sense of your level of commitment to what you do. So perhaps you could share a bit of that journey to your to what you’re doing now and what it took for you to get there.

Lauren Waldman
So I think like most people, I went through a very standardised educational process Elementary, high school, University, College and there was nothing spectacular about it. I can honestly say I’m not sure that I remember much of anything from those years. But when I got into learning and development. And I started designing and instructing I was facilitating, I was training trainers and teachers, there was always this very instinctual feeling that something was missing. And as my career progressed, and I got the opportunity to meet some phenomenal people, and one of them introduced me to the neurosciences. And it was that missing piece for me it was that this is what I think I intuitively knew but didn’t know that I knew it. But it was the learning process then of, well, if we want to understand what learning is, or the process of burning, while the place that it happens is in the brain. So I went back and started studying the brain. And for me, I was about 35 at the time, and I could not get my head around it. It was so challenging. I never had a scientific background. I didn’t do exceptionally well. In math in school, and all of a sudden, here I am with no previous experience learning some of the most challenging things that I’d ever learned as an adult. And I think, you know, in our previous discussions I had told you that it was going back and looking at things like a child, learning how to pronounce words, again, getting very frustrated and upset because I couldn’t grasp things. But at the same time, I became my best learning experience and experiment, which is I had to put myself through a very true process of what learning was, and it was excruciating, and it was frustrating, but it was also incredibly victorious at the end.

John Ball
So was it more sense of preaching what you practice than practice what you preach?

Lauren Waldman
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. But had I not had that experience I wouldn’t have been able to, to sort of really understand from a designer’s perspective as well; how do I make that process easier for the people who are I’ll be designing for? So it really it helped me with my own learning it. You know, and I think mostly as well it helped me with because when you deep dive into the brain, you’re learning about yourself as a fundamental human. And that changes everything. The more that you understand your operating system and how we process and whatnot, it really does change the whole game about how we look at not only learning but as ourselves.

John Ball
I’ve read a number of books about bad ways of learning methodologies for learning and how best to work with comprehension. And definitely there’s some stuff out there that is a bit ‘out there’. There’s some stuff out there that that’s pretty solid and does seem to work and what kind of stuff have you encountered that that just is rubbish and should be avoided as well, brain myths if you like about learning, and what’s the kind of stuff that we should be paying more attention to?

Lauren Waldman
So I mean, as far as brain myths go, I think this has been the year of, I think just nailing the final you’re putting the final nail in the coffin of learning styles. I think we’ve heard. We’ve heard that across the board. And it’s already been empirically proven by science, that learning styles aren’t really a thing. The brain doesn’t just learn with one particular section, it learns with its entirety. So that’s definitely one of the larger ones. I think that for retention of learning, again, I think it goes back to what most of us probably would have experienced when we were going through school is we would sit there and we would cram. And we would do rote memorization. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and to this day, I can remember sitting in French class and just right after the professor would say something, just repeating it back over and over and over again. And it just wasn’t the way to, to learn and to encode. So those types of methodologies, they do have their place like, you know, rote memory. has its place. But this sort of looking at our brains and looking at learning as just get it all in there as fast as you can. It just, it doesn’t feel good. We don’t remember anything. And so it’s essentially ineffective learning. So, you know, things like that. But on the flip side of it, you have phenomenal methodologies and theories that come directly from research and science and experimentation. It’s just unfortunate because they’re not out there as you know, widely uses. I’m sure the scientists would love to see them.

John Ball
Yeah. I think one for myself and possibly for people who are going to be listening to this as well. And that may be in the world of online course creation. understanding some of these things is going to be critical because a lot of things moving that way like online education is big business right now. And you know, lots of people are saying, Well, you know, this is gonna be the future. Education and, and I would say, you know, for me, I blend far more in my online education than I did from academia. My time at university, although that was a great experience as in terms of learning. My own self directed learning has been much more valuable to me since then, then then it was at that particular time. But I think a lot, of course, creators are really going to want to try and get a sense from you about what sort of things they should be doing to make sure that they’re creating content and course materials in a way that’s going to be understandable, learnable memorable and work best with the students?

Lauren Waldman
I think that that’s, you know, that’s the first place that I would start as far as perspiration goes is, is to, for me, knowing about the brain and its limitations and its resources. It’s as a designer, we want to protect That we want to sort of we want to utilise it effectively and efficiently. But we want to protect the resources as well. So to that point, I’d say, for me, when I’m designing something, I’m really taking into consideration the cognitive load. And the cognitive load is really how much can the brain has taken in its working memory at any one given time, without getting completely exhausted and shutting down. So a really great example for those who are course creating, especially in the online world, right now, if you can imagine your brain as almost like your house, right, and there are different places in your house and Each place has a certain function. So you’ve got your kitchen, that’s where you do your cooking Well, in my brain, let’s say it’s a part a small part that that does all of my emotional processing. But that’s one part my visual centres that are going to process everything that I’ve seen as far as what’s on my screen, and the pixelation on the screen. You know about my length. I’ve got all of these little different places in my brain that do everything essentially, but when I’m designing and what I’m going to recommend for designers is that you’ve got to sort of say, if I’m using too much energy, if I’m using too many of those resources, then you’re gonna get tired a lot faster. So if you’re an online learning designer, and you’re like, Oh, this is so cool, I want to put this music in the background and this really great colour. And I’ve got this text font that I want to use. Oh, and that video, right, that video, you’re already using so much energy and so many of those resources, which means the cognitive load is going to you know, it’s going to exceed its limit before someone probably gets 15 minutes in. So my, my first recommendation would be, again, not everyone’s going to go out and learn everything that there is to know about the brain. That’s all you’ve got people like me. But if you just kind of take those little things and look at your screen and go, Hmm, maybe I need to just kind of power down a bit. Maybe I can like take some of those texts out and I don’t have to narrate here or and really start being intentional about what is on that screen. You’re To help your learner to be able to give their attention to the thing that you need them to focus on,

John Ball
when it comes to delivering information, and one of the things that I’ve often heard time and time again, in public speaking clubs, for example, is creating content as if you were directing it to children of eight to 12 years old. And I sometimes get concerned that that might be for some people oversimplifying, like they say, talking about some level of simplification, but it’s simply simplifying the right things. And sometimes I think taking things down to a level that some, some adults may find a bit condescending or a bit do you think is important to find some level of balance in there about the level of information that you’re giving?

Lauren Waldman
Absolutely, there is a professor out of UCLA, his name is Robert Bjork, and I admire his work so much. And I’d encourage people to look up some of his because he has been in this for decades, and he has a theory of desirable difficulties and desirable difficulties being that we want to insert challenge, we want to insert things that are difficult because when we make it too easy, then the brain just goes oh, I know this, we’re good. And like, okay, we’ll just move on. I’ll just go shop on Amazon while you play in the background. So you want a level of difficulty and it’s almost you know, that the brain’s natural, natural places to go. I’m comfortable and safe. I’m good, I’m good right here. We want to push it out of that comfort zone to be. I’m not so sure about this. This is kind of confusing me but let’s keep going. So it is quite a balance of those two things in saying that though, for those of your audience who are in elearning and image design, is learning does not happen immediately. And It certainly doesn’t happen after a one-hour module or something, the encoding process of memory is very intricate and it takes a lot more time than we actually realise. So, you know, we have high hopes and high expectations of how people can learn and how fast they can learn but in actuality, the human process of it is not that fast.

John Ball
Right, so this is an area that I find particularly fascinating and I like to read a lot I like to listen to audiobooks, especially because I find I can get through a lot more learning and information. And but even then, sometimes I get to a point where I was like, I need to put something aside for a while or go and listen to a bit of fiction or just put some music on and give my brain a rest, you know, like lifting too much weight in the gym. But there was certainly a time when I was listening to like Blinkist and getting all these like blinks or key points or nutshell books and listening to other book reviews and just getting tons and tons of information as well as running alongside doing several online courses at the same time. And you just get to a point where thinking, How much can you really take in and this really learning, if you’re reading Blinkist, or listening to blinks or going through an audiobook summary or something, really, that’s all you’re getting, in my opinion, is familiarisation. Right? You’re not really learning because if you are asked to recall that you’re probably going to refer back to the materials you don’t actually kind of own that knowledge. How do you get to a point of, of getting that knowledge solidified and having it for yourself to be able to draw on as part of your own knowledge bank?

Lauren Waldman
Really, first you have to define whether, you know, what is your goal here? Do you want to learn which is more long term and coating of memory, or do you want to perform and performance is short term and you can you know, you can google You know, Google something or YouTube, you know, watch the YouTube video again or revisit the book. And so first established which one is more important? Is it you just want to perform something? Or do you actually want to learn for the long term, if you want to learn for the long term, it’s really a matter of strategizing, how you’re going to space out your learning, when you’re going to do it, I can give you an example of an experiment I’m actually conducting on myself right now. I decided, as someone who can learn a skill, I’ve been able to learn, obviously, everything I’ve learned about the brain through my studying, but I never challenged myself to learn anything with my motor skills. So I said, I’m gonna teach myself how to juggle. And it’s very, very difficult, but knowing what I know about how the brain is going to encode and how it’s gonna form the pathway, is that right? Where are the steps I’m going to take? Well, first, I’m going to watch a YouTube video. Why not? Let’s go basics here. So I’m just going to take in that little bit of information. But I also know that I have to create pathways in my brain to be able to do the motions. But I’m not going to try to grab three balls right away and just, you know, go for it. So it was that progressive build-up of, I’m gonna start with one ball, and I’m going to get that feeling down. I’m going to get this and let my brain understand what that feeling is because most of us aren’t used. Most of us, I don’t think are omni-dexterous, which means we’re not really good at using both of our hands. So that was the first step, second step. Okay. I do that for a couple of days, I take a break. Now I don’t practice every day. That’s my key. I want to do spaced repetition so that my brain has time to just relax and then I challenge it with those desirable difficulties to retrieve what I have already learned. And then start integrating and more and more and more so I’m consistently practising but I’m not cramming, practising until I can finally and I’m not there yet. By the way, I’m not there yet I’ve hit myself in the head you know so many times. But I’m not there yet but it’s really being intentional about that memories are encoded while we sleep as well. So it’s really important to allow for that process to happen to get your rest and to let you know while we sleep is the only time the brain is remembering and forgetting things at the same time. It’s actually really cool and so to give yourself that time to rest to sleep, so those memories can start getting a little bit more solidified and then go back and make them stronger and stronger and stronger through practice and repetition.

John Ball
Yeah, I just recently listened to get Matthew Walker met his book on Why We Sleep. So well that was fascinating and was talking about memory encoding and things like that and the effects that even just like mild alcohol use can have a memory thing and how much harder it is to remember things? And so yeah, Sleep is a critical part of all this process as well. In terms of ingraining information on maybe a more studious sort of level like for example like I one of the areas that I am particularly interested in is influence and persuasion skills. So if I’m looking wanting to read books and really master them and know them and be able to recall them and cite them, and I’m going to use this spaced repetition as part of my process for doing that. What what are the best ways to approach that and to get the best results there?

Lauren Waldman
Definitely zero in on your content. I think when people think about wanting to remember something, they start incredibly broad and large, right? Like I need to remember that whole chapter. I need to remember this whole book, I want to cite it correctly. But like I said, take care of your own resource, right? And how much you really want to put in there. And what are those really important points that you want? And then why is it important for you to want to know this right? We do, as far as we know thus far have unlimited capacity to remember, our memories are unlimited, as far as we know, at this moment. So if you can actually remember the whole book or whatever, but zero in on what’s really important and what you want to focus on, because then you’re saving your cognitive load, you’re saving your working memory. That’s number one. There are mixed reviews on highlighting and taking notes. Note-taking is 100% effective, but there are different ways that you can go about it, so that you can encode in a different way. So if I’m, for example, I read a lot of white papers and a lot of scientific journals and if there is something like you that I really want to remember, then I thought my notes but on one side, I’m just going to take a quick like, you know, written note but on the other side, I’m encoding with pictures. I’m triggering my brain to remember in a different way in a different space and place. I’ll leave it for a day or two, and then I’ll come back and revisit it. However, before I revisit it, I’m not gonna look directly at the sheet. I’m going to try to retrieve what I can before I go and look and just start to memorise again. So it’s again, it’s not only part of the process of seeing what do I know, which is metacognition, but it’s also if you already know something, then I can move on from that and if not, then I can just reinforce it by going back and reviewing and practising again. But always challenge I think that’s the thing is we always want to take the easy route because that’s the that’s what we’ve known our whole time. You know, growing up with cue card like front-back, front back. Flashcards are great too. But again, it’s Are you instantly just looking at the answers, or Are you challenging your brain to say, Do you remember that? Can you bring that forward for me? And that’s the part that we typically miss

John Ball
So something like maybe asking yourself questions about what you’ve been learning, that would be a good way to help with the spaced repetition?

Lauren Waldman
Absolutely. There was, you notice I mentioned the word metacognition, metacognition very simply, Well, maybe not so simply put, is thinking about what you were thinking about. So it’s being aware of your own cognitive processes. Now, those are things that have to be learned as well, because they’re, you know, it’s not easy to stop in the moment and go, what did I just think that or do I know that or do I think I know that? Often as learners, we overestimate or underestimate what we know. We don’t know. So when you have that conscious awareness of ‘I actually don’t think I know what I’m doing right now because I’ve stopped to think about it. I thought in the moment Do I really understand what I just read there? Maybe not. Okay, go back.’ And that’s, that’s what’s really going to help somebody learn is when you develop those skills to know how to direct your attention. So that you can be more self-regulated and more self-aware in your learning, then you’re a step ahead because you can actually catch yourself and you can almost like give yourself feedback saying, Oh, you know what? I thought I knew that. Can I prove it to myself? Okay, can I retrieve it? Actually, I can’t retrieve it. Can I recall what that sentence was? No, I actually, I can’t. So, go back and do it again. So those are also skills to build upon as learners. But also, if you’re designing learning as well, you want to integrate these skills into your design so that your learners can also be a little bit more self-regulated. And you can do that through different varieties of retrieval practices and tasks and quizzes and whatnot, that give them those opportunities to challenge themselves because what’s the point of getting through a whole course and then realising I don’t actually remember what or I didn’t really understand or grasp that concept from module number three, but I’m at module number eight. It’s too late.

John Ball
So those things seem to lead to the whole point of learning is to be able to practically apply what you’re learning as well, to a great degree, that is a solidification of what you do as well if you can actually apply what you’ve been learning, then you can show yourself that you know it,

Lauren Waldman
Right. And then it’s a matter of, you know, depending on what the skill or the behaviour or you know, what it is that you want, that you’re trying to accomplish, you’re gonna want to get somebody to either monitor that or test you or, you know because we can’t necessarily trust our own judgments. We’ve got our own personal biases of what we think we know and what we don’t know. So it’s always important. That’s why feedback is so you know, so critical, sometimes no burning process, because you might think you know it somebody else is like, a little bit more work there.

John Ball
For areas that I want to know really well one of the things that I do is, and I guess I’m being completely aware that I’ve been doing it but I certainly have is creating beaches talks about it that I give to my Toastmasters club or somewhere else. But I’ll actually go and present on information and teach it because that pushes me to have a greater level of understanding about what I’ve been learning. Because if you kind of talk about it, it’s very different than just reading.

Lauren Waldman
Social learning is incredibly powerful. And for so many different reasons. I mean, when you think about us, as individual humans, we all have had so many different life experiences, and we’ve got so many different memories. So you know, if we’re all looking at one thing, we’re potentially all interpreting that one thing very differently based on our memories and experiences, which means that there’s such a plethora of information that us as individuals hold that can then connect it differently for somebody else. So it’s how do you know and those are networks and those are schemas in the brain of like, how we interpret our world and how we group things together to make sense of them. But you know, I can’t remember I told you but there’s one thing that I’ve done workshops where I’ll take these people on this magical journey through the brain. And they’re drawing pictures of them writing down words and interpretations of the same thing. I’m saying the same thing to hundreds of people. And then we look at these and you walk around the room, and not one picture is the same. And it’s fantastic. They all interpret it differently. They all pull upon their memories and experiences. And when you look at a collective consciousness like that, it’s absolutely fantastic. So as a designer, again, if there is ways that you can embed social learning or collective memory, it’s, it’s phenomenal. It’s definitely phenomenal.

John Ball
One thing that I have been wanting to speak to you about in the area of accelerated learning, because again, as I mentioned that there are some places where there’s a lot of bullshit around and there is there’s a lot of good stuff around in terms of being able to speed up our learning process. What in your opinion Is his real works and what’s kind of bullshit and doesn’t really work.

Lauren Waldman
I think, you know, if you sort of summarise all the little things that we’ve been talking about thus far, I mean, those are the things that really work. It’s being intentional and strategizing, it’s using space, using methodologies like spaced repetition, interweaving, it’s knowing the limitations of your own brain and how to operate and work without a little bit more, you know, anybody who is you know, and again, hey, if you’ve got the time to dedicate to learn to juggle day in and day out, you’re probably going to learn it a lot faster than I am. But it’s really that timing factor of it, how much time do you have to dedicate it to and then are you utilising the proper methodologies in order to help that process? You know, so that’s the, you know, there is for me, and I think that’s where especially in an organisational world where we have to, we have to level set the expectations on How fast somebody can learn versus how fast they can transfer to produce something. It’s been very skewed for a very long time and you know, who suffers the humans suffer because I can’t perform, because I didn’t learn this or my sales metrics are down because of this, or my compliance numbers are off, because, you know, we didn’t pass our compliance test. But you went to that eight hour day of training, oh, but you went to that workshop, but you did that elearning It doesn’t work like that, you know, so we’ve got to be a little bit more sensitive to the human process. And you know, more aware of that process so that we can really level set expectations on what we can and cannot do and what times we can. So as far as accelerated learning goes, Yeah, if you’ve got all the time in the world to dedicate to that one thing, you’re going to do a lot, a lot more a lot faster than most but if you’re like everybody else who has a job or has a family or has other you know, life commitments things are going on. You just have to be a little bit more intentional about the time that you spend and be released. strategic about it as well.

John Ball
I got very interested in accelerated learning as an area for a while and I even did a workshop and online workshop round two that I run for a while as well. And the things that I’ve done several speed reading workshops myself as an attendee and I really am thinking I may end up increasing my reading speed but I always find it comes at the cost of comprehension for me. Would you say that’s generally true for these things?

Lauren Waldman
I haven’t done extensive research on this. But I actually I was asked to come in and an audit, a speed reading course. And I did and then I did some research on it. And it turns out just to your point, speed reading isn’t really a thing. You can get through something a lot faster, but the retention and the comprehension rate is a lot lower. So yeah, from from the research and from what I understand thus far, it’s not really a thing I mean, it’s a thing as far as like I can like scan something really quickly and get through a book faster. But if that’s your only objective and yes, congratulations, you can speed read.

John Ball
Yeah, the only thing I’ve ever found it useful for is in constructing speeches or finding bits of information for content I already know a bit as well not for some reading something just off the bat, but speed read and find stuff that you want to utilise.

Lauren Waldman
Right.

John Ball
Or getting specific chunks of information. Like if you want to create a set of flashcards or some prepared information for you to review that, for me has been the only place I found it useful. I’m open to people who know guys saying that it works and I use it and I would remember it all, I’d love to hear from them.

Lauren Waldman
Yes, for some people it does, but I mean even to that to like for the purposes of what you’re using it for. It seems like Well, you’re already before you even open that book, or open that website. Whatever it is, you’re already priming your brain to say we’re looking out for this Yeah, so just focus on that. Look for those keywords look for that, right. So you’re not reading through everything in which case, you’re being again, more strategic and intentional about where you’re directing your focus and attention to.

John Ball
One of the things that occurs to me that where there is a perhaps a problem with online learning because you saying how important social learning is. And I see this as well. And when you learn with a group, like in a workshop, or even an online group, you learn from the things that other people get that you may not see, and they’ll learn from those bits for you. Whereas we’re very sort of self-contained, self-directed online learning is often just new on the computer.  And so, there’s perhaps an important bit that’s missing there is Is there any way around that or any compensations that can come in and help?

Lauren Waldman
Yeah, I mean, depending on who or what you’re designing for it, you can design it in, you can Go communities within learning you can you know whether or not you can utilise, whether it’s social media, Facebook pages, or Twitter groups or whatever, whatever that is, you can design that intentionally in, maybe you want to go, maybe you want to do a live session, every one or two weeks, if you have the luxury, you know, it depends on how large scale you’re going and how many people it is that you’re trying, you’re trying to reach. But you can do that. Maybe as part of your design. You want to encourage people to go find those, you know, you know, like your book club, if you will, and create that community. But at the end of the day, if you’re alone with your computer, and you’re just watching some videos, it’s really going to be up to you. And that comes back to the metacognition to self regulate, and to self-test and, you know, to go out and seek people who can validate your knowledge. So, you know, I mean, myself dealing with the sciences, I don’t trust myself at all when it comes to these things, you know, I’m not going to, I’m not going to leave it into my own hands, I’m going to reach out to you know, to the Where behavioural sciences so the neuroscientists or whatever to say, Do I have this right? Because I’m translating their work, I’m translating science, right? And I don’t have an extensive I didn’t do a PhD. And I don’t have the extensive knowledge that they do. So I might do an online course but I’m going to find somebody who’s done this for a lot longer than I have to make sure that what I think I know I actually do know.

John Ball
Which is a much better attitude than people thinking they know enough about a subject after watching a couple of YouTube videos.

Lauren Waldman
If that were the case and I’d be able to juggle right now.

John Ball
We all suffer from the Dunning Kruger effect and even people who are aware of it and have the awareness that they may not always know as much we still we’re still subject to it thinking yeah, you know more than we really do or that we’re better at something than we really are.

Lauren Waldman
There’s a classical psychological experiment where and I think I think all of us have point, you know, and ones have partly participated in these is if you show somebody a jar of gumballs, or pennies, or whatever it is, and you ask the person, like, take a good guess what do you think is in there, you know, they’re going to be usually significantly off. But when you collectively get a group of people to do it every time, they’re closer to the target. So that collective, you know, that collective sort of consciousness and that collective sort of, you know, it really does make a difference in the way that we understand, you know, what we’re thinking about and what we’re looking at, but it’s that networking aspect of it. I’m sure, you’ve probably had an experience of saying that I have when you’re like, I’ve never thought about it that way. oh, and like, and then all of a sudden just makes sense. Yeah. I just never thought about it that way. Hmm.

John Ball
Yeah, sometimes you just need to hear something put in the right way by the right person at the right time. And it clicks

Lauren Waldman
Absolutely!

John Ball
Yeah, I think I can actually think of very specific things. There was something that I used to work at a lot of live training like weekend events. And I would often hear the same thing again about having the right mindset as guy work with Harv Eker. He says, he didn’t become a millionaire, didn’t come in until he made the decision to become a millionaire. And I just thought, Oh, I just have to make that decision. And then one time, it hit me that just made sense, all of a sudden, and it was from him as well. It was from hearing him say it, that just maybe after just having heard it so many times, I suddenly got, it’s not just the decision. It’s like, the decision that this is who I am now. This is who I’ve decided that I’m going to be so I need to be that person now. Not just I’m going to get that at some point in the future. And so yeah, it definitely that makes real sense to me that that learning doesn’t always happen. At birth first introduction of the…

Lauren Waldman
No, not at all. I mean, I mean, if when I look at my own experiences and just you know, it was almost embarrassing, you know, to have a, you know, to be into my career like I started off as a teacher in academics overseas and then have this like, long, you know, almost 14 years of organisational learning and teaching, you know, thousands of people at this point designing thousands of lessons. And then neuroscience comes into my role to go Oh, man, how did I never think about the brain? Like how did I miss that for all this time? And it was just that moment, it was like, how did I know this? How did I not okay, good to know everything.

John Ball
But there is a good level of shame attached to this right. And yeah, and yet we’re all ignorant of a great minute. We don’t always know exactly what we’re wrong. And, and so I hope at some point, as a society, we might get But we can move past having this shame for not knowing things that I’ve worked very hard on myself and getting to a point in my life where I’m okay. Sometimes we’re saying, I don’t know. Yeah, because I don’t need to have the answers to everything. But yeah, there are still I still encounter this online and sometimes discussion forums and things. I try not to do too much on the social media interaction, but on more discussion forums, where some people who do have expert knowledge and treat that as if well, doesn’t everybody know this?

Lauren Waldman
So it’s interesting like I was having a conversation the other day and, you know, in in the work that I do, you know, it’s, for me what I learned very quickly, not just about learning, but especially about science. And again, we’re looking at the most complex thing on the planet, our brains. And I was very quickly humbled by it incredibly humbled by the science and by the process and by the extreme amounts of work that have to go in to just learning the smallest piece of information about us. And then you’ve got the other side. So you can either be humbled by it, or you can have a massive ego about it and say, Yes, well, now that I have done these courses and spoken to these doctors, I will tell you everything there is to know the brain. No. So you’re either you know, you need to be humble with yourself and vulnerable. We hear that word a lot. And, and, you know, I wanted to talk some, I think, you know, I do a lot of speaking and I just decided, you know, if people want to see what the true learning journey for me look like, I’m going to show you and there are pictures up and we were talking like massive movie size screens, and there’s a massive picture of me crying, just absolutely in tears and my hair is a mess. And like, there’s a stain on my shirt. And I’m like, this is that was learning. It was this like, crazy, like, challenging, but it was. I’m going to show you how it really is because I’m going to also tell you I’m not a neuroscientist, I’m a translator. I do have my credentials in neuro, but I don’t know it all. I don’t want to know it all. Because very, fortunately, we have billions of people on this planet who can fill in those gaps for us.

John Ball
Yeah, you don’t need to set yourself up as the ultimate authority. You can set yourself up with the expertise to say I can talk about this. But I don’t have to have all the answers to be able to do that.

Lauren Waldman
No, that’s basically stunting your learning right there. And then, you know, when you lose your curiosity, and you think that you know it all woman tomorrow is gonna feel and look a lot like today.

John Ball
I’m a very committed lifelong learner. And I think it wasn’t always so as I went through quite a long period after leaving university to probably my 30s where I didn’t spend very much time learning if I didn’t have to do it for work. But then when I got into Paris, Development started investing money in my learning and some of it was great some of it was dubious. I missed a lot of money in learning NLP and that some of it again, some of its great some of its not and many other areas but now my learning is very self-directed and you know, I choose very specific things that I want to learn like I when I started getting into public speaking, I started trying to learn as much as possible about public speaking. And with stuff, I’m doing on podcasting. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about podcasting. You know, I really like to, I don’t need to become an expert, but I like to at least get a good general level of knowledge right and say, I’m comfortable with what I know in this area. And I know some stuff rather than as I’m doing it, but I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. And but in terms of self-directed learning, which can be challenging, do you have any recommendations for people to keep themselves excited and motivated with their own life?

Lauren Waldman
You know, everybody’s gonna be motivated by something different. And you know, and I can only share from my own personal experiences, right is you know, okay, so I learned about the brain or I sort of had that revelation like, Oh my gosh, the brain, that’s the thing doing the learning, I should probably know something about that. And I was highly motivated, because, you know, again, I misled myself, Oh, this is gonna be easy. I’m just gonna go and study and fine, you know, and it wasn’t, it wasn’t but what kept me going, was understanding why I wanted to do this so badly, and how it was going to change. You know, when I started that journey, it was very much related to work. And I was like, I need to learn everything that I can so I can bring this back into learning and learn how to be a better designer and I was really, really, really motivating me to do so. The further I got into my studies, I then realised Oh, wow, I am learning a lot about me. I’m learning a lot about me as a human at the time. I had a 98-year-old grandmother, who was, you know, declining, obviously. And then my motivation got turned towards her. She had dementia, I said, There’s got to be something, you know, if I study a little bit more, if I learn a little bit more about this, I might be able to connect with this gorgeous woman who I’m losing, you know, piece by piece, but it was motivating for me to do that. And, you know, the last few months of her life, I was able to connect with her and because of what so my motivation was very high because of that. So I think it’s always going back to, if you’re learning just because you’re curious about something, then you’re already going to do it. It’s not like you’re going to be motivated to do it. You’re going to chase that curiosity, when I find that you’re learning to change something that you’re doing functionally, or practically. That’s when you kind of go back to yourself and be like, how is this really going to affect X or Y? And for me, if what helped me and I would you know, I recommend anybody. Give it a go. Just treat it like an experiment. Make yourself your own beautiful scientific experiment. You know hypothesise what, why? You know, what is it that I think I’m going to learn and why am I learning it? But what am I going to do with it afterwards? What is that end result going to look like? And be okay to fail. Like, just be okay to fail. One of you know, when I was saying, you know how humbled I am by science. I, I’ll never forget this conversation with one of the scientists on teaching hospital here in Toronto. And I said, You know, I really feel like I’ve been humbled by everything I said, I’ll read your papers. But it takes me like two or three days to read one paper because I need to I can’t I need to uncoded and, and learn and not and he’s like, now imagine, me and my colleagues will spend years doing the same research and maybe at the end of three years, we realise there was nothing there for us to learn and we have to start all over again. And I just like at that moment, I was like, Oh my gosh, okay. fastest it is no, you know, I, we’re all motivated by something that’s inside of us.

John Ball
Yeah. You know, I love what you’re saying about that you were learning specifically to connect with your grandmother. And I sometimes hear things about learning as a tool to at least slowdown or combat cognitive decline. Is there’s solid evidence or solid research for that?

Lauren Waldman
There is and I don’t I mean, it’s nothing that I dive into that much myself. For the hospital that I affiliate with. In Toronto. It’s called the Rotman Research Centre, and they specifically focus on learning memory, Alzheimer’s and dementia. And it’s, yeah, they’re finding out new things every single day. We know that. I mean, whether you like it or not everyone you’re learning every day. Like your brains, just do. It, it’s what its job is to continually, you know, look around and learn to keep you safe and keep you alive. There are significant amounts of research happening right now to you know, look at these things. I know it just in passing probably when I was doing some work or whatnot, I probably came across some articles on new new new techniques for Alzheimer’s But yeah, I mean, I think the best thing that we can do is keep your brain stimulated keep challenging it you know, like anything else like a muscle if you just don’t do anything, it just kind of stays the same and stay stagnant. So, you know, I always when I looked at my grandmother, you know, she was wheelchair-bound for several years and you know, before she passed and, and I always thought you know what, scared I don’t know what scares me more, even to this day is knowing as much as I do now, is if my brain is stronger when I get older, my body’s still gonna deteriorate, which is worse. But no, I’d say you know, this is what keeps us alive. You know, this is what makes us this allows me to speak with you to look at you to process everything that’s going around. And for the most part, I’d say myself included, we take it immensely for granted. So, it’s very complex and it’s very, very, very, you know, intricate what’s going on in there. But even if you can learn just something small, just a little something like these conversations that you and I are having, it really does make a really big significant difference to understand you as you but also look at other people around you a lot differently.

John Ball
Yeah, interestingly, the anti-ageing or ageing sciences is heating and there’s a lot of money going into combating that and from what I’ve read over recent months, a lot of that is focused more on slowing ageing, something that they believe is easier to do than trying to reverse or stop it. So that one of the biggest things that are being focused on now is slowing that down. They’re making lots of discoveries all the time and lots of development. So who knows how soon we’ll see them and probably they’ll go to the people who can afford it first before it rolls down to the rest of us mere mortals. But in terms of neuroscience, what do you at least think the future holds in terms of learning and where we’re going?

Lauren Waldman
It’s so phenomenal. You know, every time I think that you know, the coolest thing has come out something even cooler comes out, and I’m just like, wow, like, how, how did you do that? And, you know, one of the latest things that I saw that really, really impressed me was a university, I think it’s called Oola Ola, in Finland. And they’ve got, I believe, the first dual MRI. So typically, only one person can go into the MRI at a time, they’ve got a dual MRI. So now that they can actually look at the interactions happening in the brains of two people at the same time. So you know, They’ve got they’re doing a current study with couples, they’ve got 10 couples, they’re putting them into the machines together, they’re asking them to do things just like you know, touch each other’s faces or, and eventually that is going to that research is going to expand and expand, to look at things like how do we problem-solve with one another? And what is the communication look like and the executive functions so that that is one side of it, then you’ve got, you know, all of the phenomenal there’s so much in the field of neuroplasticity, and, and really understanding how the brain rewires itself to allow people who have never seen before to see. And that, you know, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the talks. I’ve seen the research. It blows me away every time. You’ve got electrical stimulation for people with Parkinson’s.

John Ball
It’s exciting when I read it. Albert Doidge. His book The Brain that Changes Itself.

Lauren Waldman
Yeah. Norman, Norman Doidge. He’s amazing Norman, Norman. Yeah, there is And you know, and I, you know, books like that are just absolutely phenomenal. There’s another gentleman V.S. Ramachandran, whose work I just got obsessed with, because I just couldn’t believe the magnificence of our brains. And his topic was more on what they call phantom limbs. And when there’s when, you know, you’ve lost a leg or an arm, but you still believe it to be there. And you can make people perceive and feel the pain. And the experiments that he did with this to sort of like rewire and re-engineer to sort of put things back in place as like this. This is just phenomenal. So the right now there’s, there’s a, there’s a lot of scientists right now who are trying to answer the question of what’s consciousness? Yes, you know, and that that itself is really, really interesting research. For me. I’m just always going to be fascinated with memory, and how that is, you know, all the magical places in which that is stored and how it happens and how it declines and anything that has to do with the data It’s really sort of what I’m very curious about. But like I said, it’s, for me, it’s a rabbit hole. It is a rabbit hole of wonderful information. And I only see that we’re going to learn so much more about ourselves in the future, that we’ll really be able to effectively change, you know, things that we’ve never been able to change before in the past.

John Ball
We can only speculate, I guess, would you say that neuroscience then as an area is still in early stages?

Lauren Waldman
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, neuroscience is still one of the more infant sciences and, you know, I say, the interest in the brain. I mean, that goes back thousands of years, you know, it’s just the methodologies of being able to study it were a little disturbing bag. A lot had to do with like, you know, physically drilling holes into people’s heads and you know, whoops. And but yeah, I’d say the there’s so many endless possibilities in this field, and Can’t I’m just so privileged that I get to even you know peek into it and speak to the people that I speak to and just be completely amazed and wowed at how this all this three pounds of just you know jello come together to make us up.

John Ball
Other than speaking and talking like we are now about this Where are you applying your work and your knowledge what kind of areas and people are you work with now?

Lauren Waldman
So, um, you know, for quite some time I was doing a lot of organisational design, so anything that had to do with them, you know, in enhancing employee experiences when it comes to what they needed to learn, I was brought in to basically redevelop and redesign so I did a lot of that. Currently, it kind of sort of fits into what we’re talking about is yes, learning is the overarching topic here. But as a translator, I found it was very important for me to start sharing This with a lot more people not just in the context of learning but in in the sort of the context of understanding us as humans better. So spoiler alert, I am developing, there’s, there’s a course that courses I just realised it wasn’t just one. So there are courses that are in the works that will be released, hopefully by the end of September. And those will be online, they will be public, and they will be scientifically designed as well. So everything that we’ve just spoken about, you know, the repetition, the interleaving, the community, the social is all going to be in there. So those will get released sometime then. And for the most part, I get hired because people want to just leverage the expertise of the brain and they want to know more, whether that be for learning design, or you know, for everyday life design.

John Ball
Yeah, I mean, it’s been, honestly it’s so fascinating to hear what you do and I even saying that you’re not like the total authority on this. You just work in this area, you know a lot about it and you’re helping other people to understand it more. In terms of getting up on a public stage and speaking about this, is that something you had done before?

Lauren Waldman
A lot? Yeah, a lot. So as you know, we’re in a, we’re in a time of history right now where that’s now no longer feasible. But yeah, there’s still I do a lot of podcasts. I do a lot of speaking engagements. And I’m always I think, anybody who’s curious enough to reach out to me to say, Hey, would you mind coming and talking to us about this? Absolutely. Absolutely. So the speaking engagements will definitely live on I should probably, you know, make a list of all the podcasts as well. Yeah, so I’ve got to get out of my own learning and research holes to put this all out there. But yes,

John Ball
They’re a great resource for you. And I was listening to one of the podcasts that you put out a recording that you did, and with The Behaviourist and I was loving it, I was thinking oh, I need to try not to make the questions do similar attract, but nonetheless it wasn’t so much thinking about that because I just got engrossed in the information and find it such a fascinating area and love listening to it. I think it’s super interesting. I don’t plan to move into working in it myself but I definitely think there’s a lot of application there that I can utilise and bring into what I do, especially with even things like I’m working on a book writing a book and creating online programmes is all stuff for we can get a lot of value and benefit from that people

Lauren Waldman
So much practical application, and it’s really, you know, if I had a magic wand and I could just like you know, teach the world to teach everybody how to learn again, and in a different way in a way that is challenging that makes you feel exceptionally wonderful. Then you know, I would do it but you know, right now we can only put out what we can put out those who know You know, and you’ll see like it’s tattooed on my arm is the word yar. And Yarr stands for you are really ready, you are really ready. And that, to me is that moment where you’re like, got it. Let’s do this. I can tell I can share this. I’m confident I know that I’ve learned. And so for me spreading the ideology of VR. That’s, that’s what makes all of the hard work and the research and the crying and the frustration, but the victory it makes it so sweet. So, YARR to everyone

John Ball
I always like to ask my guests for a book recommendation. And yeah, I’m happy if it’s my guess, own book, or if there’s a book that I think in this case, maybe a book that may be a good place for people to go to to get a bit more if they’re interested in the neuroscience and the learning what would be a book that you would recommend as a good place to further their education?

Lauren Waldman
Oh, I am actually I So I’m currently rereading Daniel Kahneman ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. Yeah. But it’s a little bit of a heavy read at times. And that’s why I’m going again, I’m relearning I’m going back to really dive into it. I like that book only because it gives you a good base of view of the systems. And I think that’s a great place to start is just understanding those couple of systems. If you are a designer and learning and you want to learn how to do, you know, sort of start integrating more of these things. You’ve got, you know, Julie Dirksen who wrote a wonderful book, we’ve got Margie Meacham, who I think she’s phenomenal. There are so many wonderful people who I could cite at this point. So it’s just a matter of No, my biggest advice for everyone is just, you know, really be intentional and make sure that you’re not falling into the myth of you know, the marketing. So look at who As that’s, you know, make sure that you’ve got a credible resource because I can tell you from on behalf of the scientists and other people who spend their lives, you know, trying to get us all this information, we owe it to them to to be credible and to try to maintain ethics and value in the work that they’ve provided for us.

John Ball
Hopefully, and far too many people undervalue that or get more attracted to a flashy styling. the egocentric message then to the maybe not so not always so sexy looking and flashy. But the real knowledge this stuff actually works and it has substance to it. And often people can’t see past the sort of surface things but to take a look behind the screen to see what’s really going on with the Wizard of Oz.

Lauren Waldman
Yeah, yeah. And it’s something that, you know, something that I started to do my cell phone during this time that we’ve been online, I’ll do presentations. And I’ll ask people at the end of it I said, Do you want me to do let me show you how I designed this? Do I, you know, there’s, there’s when you’re learning, there’s you don’t hoard learning, don’t hoard your secrets, you know, and the amount of people said, we’d actually, you know, spend an extra 20 minutes or half an hour online with me, and I’ll take them through my whole presentation, I’ll be like, I will show you how science was used to design this. So…

John Ball
We might have to record another episode and do that.

Lauren Waldman
I’d love to, I’d love to Yeah, yeah, I’d love to I love doing that.

John Ball
I know one thing that I’d love to get to some point, but not today is like you posted something recently about the taxonomy of learning and then some stuff that was advancing or taking a look at what’s replacing things like Bloom’s Taxonomy and that was an interesting area for me and just understanding that level levels of learning that we go through and, and how we utilise our knowledge and what actually and What is actually scientific or not scientific about, that was a bit of a rabbit hole in itself. And that could be an interesting area to come back to in the future. But I don’t want to hog too much of your time. So much great information today. And I really loved this conversation and I don’t even need to ask you for the closing thoughts because I think you’ve already shared those really but I will ask you how people can come and find out more about you?

Lauren Waldman
I am taking a little social media break, but I am usually quite active on LinkedIn and that’s where you can find articles I’ve written. I’d actually recommend to anybody who does have a parent, a grandparent or someone who has gone through or is going through dementia, Alzheimer’s, I did a tribute article to my grandmother last year when she passed. So, you know, I would love for people to sort of take some comfort or solace in that. LearningPirate.com is the website where you can see what this brain has created and what’s going out there. I should be on Twitter more than I am Quite honestly, you can connect with me on LinkedIn there is right now there’s only one learning pirate on LinkedIn and it’s me so

John Ball
It’s a good place to connect with you. And I’m very glad we got to connect there and conversation today. I really enjoyed it. And I certainly hope to come in at the end and maybe record another episode with you in the future.

Lauren Waldman
Anytime,

John Ball
It has been an absolute pleasure, Lauren Waldman, thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker
YARR, thank you.

(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)