What is The Blob?
When you learn something new for the first time, you will take in a lot of information, and for the most part, will not yet assimilate it to the point of understanding or comprehension. I liken this new knowledge to a ‘blob’ – it’s a mass of new ideas, terms, concepts, rules and language which have been introduced to you, but may not make much sense (yet).
Digesting the blob of new information takes time
A lot of people mistakenly believe they understand something the moment it’s explained to them; this is not the case. Many may understand superficially what they have just read, heard or experienced, but it’s not until it’s assimilated in the brain does it truly become something you can use. More often than not we will take away what we can use from a training course/event; but only after we’ve had time to digest the material and let the brain work out the best way we will store/use that material in the future. For some people, this ‘context’ won’t be found immediately, nor the next day. Sleep is an important factor in helping to ‘cement’ this new information in such a way to be useful to you.
Hump Day is when the learning happens
In my previous experience teaching technical training classes, the first 2 days of a 5-day training class were not the most productive. The students had shown up to the class, but not much seemed to be taken in or assimilated. But, a strange thing seemed to occur on the Wednesday – not only did the student show up to class, but they seemed to be there – in the present moment, ready and eager to learn. From that point, the remaining days seem to fly past. Why was this? With little to go on except my own experience, two things were at play:
- Inevitability: The students were not going to get out of the training course so they better get into it and enjoy the rest of it
- They’d forgotten their daily work chores, let the phone divert to voicemail and didn’t ‘just check’ their email – in other words, they’ve made a conscious decision to learn
This usually happened on the Wednesday – there was a shift in reason for being in the class – the students had come into the class ready to learn and able to fully engage, not only with me (as the instructor) but also with the other participants. Collaborative Learning environments have been shown to be some of the best environments to help all participants assimilate new information quickly and efficiently (where the students are also seen as teachers in themselves, sharing knowledge and experience with the other students).
Learning anything new takes time, and requires time to help make sense of it all. If you’re learning something new, give yourself time to understand it. Not only that, you should also share your thoughts and learnings with someone who knows you well as they can help you make sense of it and apply it to your situation. Learning is a fundamental building block of life – give it the time it deserves!