“A baby is playing with her mother, exchanging looks and gestures and smiles. This is happening over a video link, but the level of engagement seems like it’s face-to-face.
But then, a small adjustment is made. A two-second delay is introduced to the video feed between mother and child. Quite suddenly, the child moves from contentment to distress. Just a small disruption of the synchrony has remarkable consequences.
This is one of many experiments described by Thomas Lewis and Richard Lannon in their book, A General Theory of Love. What emerges again and again is that good parenting maintains spontaneity and a sense of connection. The same may be true of learning.
Maybe we could use our time together to increase our emotional bandwidth, to complement the technological bandwidth we already have on our devices. This means sharing experiences rather than content.
In learning, maintaining a sense of care and attention may be the most powerful thing we can do. Passing on fixed ideas and knowledge is secondary.”
This has been very much on my mind working with groups this year. It’s so easy to get fixated on getting to outcomes and action lists and forget that we’re working with human beings whose minds thrive on connection. A lot can be gained by spending time on introductions so that people can connect with fellow participants, not just the subject experts. Often they will learn more from sharing their own experiences with each other. And spending time at the start on introductions also pays off – not a laborious “go-round” so much as a series of paired conversations or small groups, where people can connect without the pressure of performing in front of a large group.