Why are some people so resistant to learning?

I love teaching and have been told that I am good at it. However, the results tell me there is still room for growth.

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

This photo of me looking at some Union Students’ work captures my intent. I think a long time before I open my mouth to give feedback. Even after thinking about it, I could still have used a healthy dose of tact to deliver those thoughts.

photo by Dennis Fahringer

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

  1. Motivation—Many things impact this, from needs and desires to the environment that can create push. I have watched training at Chick-fil-A and noticed that making something a game seems to increase motivation. People can see the reward for their learning.
  2. Intelligence—We all have strengths and weaknesses; sometimes, the 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 presenting their material in ways that engage the different learning styles.

Here are 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 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 others.
  7. Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

However, I continue to come up against one thing that creates a resistance to learning. 

 #4 Resistance to Learning: Psychological Cost of Learning The most significant obstacle I continue to come up against is asking adults, significantly, 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 highly competent, and the switching to digital was a significant blow to their world. 

When teaching storytelling, I find that students often think 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 go to a rehab facility, some 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 in which to learn.

This is similar to a great storyline as well. If you think where you are is because of your competency and, in reality, resist the inevitable change necessary for survival in this field, you will soon 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 realize that the student is responsible for their learning. So, while teachers do their best to make learning as entertaining as possible and engaging to the different learning styles, resistance is still present many times.

There is the point that the teacher allows for the student’s failure because while we try to create a learning environment, some students will only learn from a crisis 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 is my problem. My life coach tells me this is not OVER thinking things.