Why are some people so resistant to learning?

Photo by Korinna Waggoner

I really love teaching. I have been told that I am really good at teaching. However the one thing that lets me know there is still room for growth are the results.

I just love to pick apart something to a level that quite frankly is annoying to some people. I will obsess over for what seems forever to examine what could be done better.

This photo of me looking at some of the Union Students work is what I think captures my intent. I am thinking a long time before I open my mouth to give feedback. Even after thinking I still could have used a healthy dose of tact in my delivery of those thoughts.

photo by Dennis Fahringer

There are three main things that many would say are contributing factors to the resistance in learning:

  1. Motivation – There are many things that impact this from needs and desires to the environment that can create motivation. I have watched training at Chick-fil-A and noticed that by making something a game there seems to be more motivation. People can see the reward for their learning.
  2. Intelligence – We all are blessed with strengths and weaknesses and sometimes certain subject matter is beyond our capacity. Often we talk about Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Quotient and other descriptors that get to the core aptitude. 
  3. Teaching – There are good teachers and bad teachers. The best teachers do a great job of presenting their material in ways that engage the different learning styles. 
Here are those The Seven Learning Styles:
  1. Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  2. Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  3. Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  4. Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  5. Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  6. Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  7. Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
However there is one thing I continue to come up against that creates a resistance to learning. 
#4 Resistance to Learning: Psychological Cost of Learning
The largest obstacle I continue to come up against is asking adults especially to “change their ways.” A great example of this within my profession was those who resisted switching from film to digital capture.
With film some photographers were extremely competent and the switching to digital was a major blow to their world.
What I am finding when teaching storytelling is that often the student thinks they are already very competent in some areas, when in reality they are just like those who were shooting film before they switched to digital.
There are three ways people will go through this:
  1. Crisis – For some it was finding out that film wasn’t all that available or the expense was too great.
  2. Hitting Bottom – Just like an Alcoholic who loses everything and is on the verge of death. Just like those who then go to a rehab facility some of them do change.
  3. Learning Environment – This is like a workshop where people are exposed to the learning curve and do not have to change, but often due to the safe environment to learn.
I wrote about this a little in an early post: Education and Journalism have a lot in common

This is similar to a great storyline as well. The only thing is if you think that where you are is because of your competency and in reality you are resisting the inevitable change necessary for survival in this field you are soon going to hit rock bottom or have a crisis.

My constant prayer while teaching:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Good teachers care enough to evaluate their teaching, but also realize that the student is responsible for their learning as well. While teachers do their best to make learning as entertaining as possible and engaging to the different learning styles resistence is still there many times.

There is the point that the teacher allows for the failure of the student, because while we try to create a learning environment some students will only learn from a crisis situation or when they hit rock bottom.

The wisdom in knowing when the success of the student is more their issue than it is mine is really about not giving up on them, but letting go of it being totally my problem. My life coach tells me this is not OVER thinking things.