Entries for month: March 2013

Good Learning Environments

All of us need to keep learning, not only for our careers but also for our lives (continuing to exercise your brain can keep you young(er), remember?!). If part of that learning includes participating in or conducting a face-to-face classroom session, you might want to consider this five factor framework for an effective learning environment. 

1.  Format. 

This is the design by which the learning material is presented.  Does the session include the relevant theories (NT), ways to help participants develop their potential (NF), opportunities for participants to feel “at home” with their fellow “classmates” (SF), and efficient and clear ways to get the material across (ST)?  Is there time for reflection (I) as well as action (E)?  Is there structure (J) to cover the essentials as well as options (P) to meet needs as they arise?  Is there a mix of material and activities that appeal to different types?  Is there a theoretical overview (N) and examples of applications (S)? 

2.  Facilities. 

Is the venue conducive to learning (and to fun – remember when learning is fun, it is more likely to stick!)?  Can people see and hear (not only the presenter but each other), and be physically comfortable? Does the equipment work? Here’s hoping there are no pillars in the room, loud construction noises outside, uncomfortable chairs, power failures, etc. Tuning into the Sensing function helps here.  SPs seem particularly adept at finding facilities where fun and learning can combine.

3.  Facilitator. 

Does he/she have a command of the material as well as the skill to get the information  across?   Are participant questions encouraged and respected?  Is the facilitator able to use Perceiving (keep it flexible and follow the group’s needs) as well as Judging (know when to keep it on track and moving along)?  Every type can potentially be a wonderful facilitator.  Facilitators need to be true to who they are, and not try to use a style that is not their own. It is painful to watch someone try to be a stand-up comic when their strengths are elsewhere.

4.  Fellowship. 

Have the attendees coalesced to the point where they are free to share their views, laugh at themselves, or admit their mistakes or vulnerabilities?  I’ve always liked the concept of “The Courage to be Imperfect” from Rudolph Dreikurs, an Adlerian psychologist.  Participants can learn so much from one another when that fellowship is there and when they feel safe and are willing to risk making a mistake for the sake of learning.  Where there are a variety of types who have achieved fellowship, the training (at least when the topic is type) almost runs itself.  Good fellowship can often overcome or at least mitigate many of the previously mentioned challenges.    

5.  Fate. 

There are certainly things beyond anyone’s control.  I’ve been in a session where a participant collapsed from ill health and required the paramedics.  I’ve seen hurricanes threaten to blow in and the participants spending more time rearranging their travel than concentrating on the material. A recent class I attended was led by a presenter trying to overcome food poisoning. 

What other factors make a learning environment more effective for you?  When you make the list, stop to consider how your type influences both your ability to teach and to learn.


1 Comment

Addicted to Type

Susan ScanlonRecently I was asked how the Indicator made a change in my life. What a great question, especially for me, because the MBTI® instrument gave me a career! For 25 years, I was learning everything I could about type and writing about it in the pages of The Type Reporter.

It started in 1983, when I read my first description of the eight preferences on a summer day in the back yard. From that moment on, I was addicted to type, and always looking for the next fix. Like all people with an exciting new idea, I wanted to share what I was learning. I started by helping everyone in my world figure out their type, and going to groups where everyone knew their type, so I could see the types in action.

I was a free lance writer at the time, so I wrote an article on the MBTI assessment for the Washington Post. I got such a good response that I thought I'd write about type for other papers and magazines. I soon realized, however, that writing introductions didn't satisfy my addiction. I always wanted to learn something new about type. So in 1984, I got the idea to start my own publication.

The first issue was about people doing innovative things with type, like making a comedy show out of it, or describing how the different types react to stress. After that, I had a theme for each issue, like "careers," "type development," or "parenting."  I'd interview MBTI professionals working in those fields, or phone people of all 16 types and ask them questions like, "What were you like as a child?" or "How do you develop your weaker functions?"

I wish everyone's work could be as much fun as mine was. I was always looking for an answer to a big question, like how can you help a feeling type ask for a raise, teach a perceiving child how to get to school with everything they need, or make it easier for a sensing type to see the sense in change. 

What I remember most fondly is the interviews I did with people of the 16 types. Because I was looking for quotes I could use in my next issue, I hung on every word they said. Because they were talking about something they really knew - themselves - they sounded clever and wise. And because they were telling me what it was really like to be them, I loved them. What better way for an INFJ to connect with others?

My rolodex, organized by type, is still sitting on the shelf next to my writing chair, and going through it, I see the names of the people I couldn't wait to call with a new question. Their voices are still in my head when I come across other people of their type, helping me understand their inner world and guiding values. I started out loving a theory and ended up loving a whole world full of people.

To all the young people who are getting addicted to type right now and thinking about making a career out of it, I can only say, it's a great place to work; it's a great place to make a difference.