How groups sped up client learning and gave us new insights even after more than a decade of teaching
On Yelp, there is one restaurant with a very curious distinction. It is not the most popular restaurant nor the one with the greatest number of reviews. Instead, it is famous for something rather unexpected. It has more 1-star reviews than any establishment listed by Yelp.
How did it get such an infamous rating?
The owner, chef Davide Cerretina, advertised a special: Leave a 1-star review on Yelp and get 25% off a pizza. He made this offer because, to him, the Yelp review system appeared to be unfair. He says that when he refused to pay for advertising on Yelp, his 5-star reviews would disappear. After some time, he decided to pay Yelp for ads. Later, he decided to cancel Yelp advertising.
Soon after this cancellation, something quite suspicious happened — 1-star reviews started to show up at the top of his page.
To Cerretina, that was the last straw. He decided to upend the entire system and request 1-star reviews from all his patrons. This strange choice was picked up by the national news media, attracted thousands of 1-star reviews that praised his establishment and helped keep his restaurant full of happy customers.
All alone, there was only so much Cerretina could do to deal with his Yelp problem. It was only through leveraging the power of his group of happy customers that he was able to reach his goals. Similarly, when we want to learn a challenging skill, we achieve far greater results when we use the power of groups to speed up the process of learning.
Group learning means that you don’t go it alone.
You learn along with at least one or two others. You learn from each other. You help and support each other. You learn not just from your own mistakes but from the mistakes of them as well.
Why do groups help us learn better than solo learning?
Because you learn from what other students do. You make a mistake and the group learns from that mistake. You create a new approach and the group gets to experiment with it.
We saw this happen quite a bit when we changed our training courses to a group-based model a few years ago. Students would learn the basics, then experiment and try new things and report back. They came up with new questions to which we didn’t have the answers. Then, they did the work to discover the answers.
We’d been teaching this process for 30 years, yet we found that we gained new insights that improved our work. We save these insights, too, so that each new group can build from what we learned from the last group. As a result, the learning never stops. However, not all groups will help you learn.
To have effective learning in groups, a few conditions are required.
First, you must create a safe zone for people to work. No one will experiment, admit something didn’t work, or try new things without feeling safe to explore.
Second, you must create mechanisms that make it easy for people to see each other’s work and comment on it in a supportive way.
Third, you must have an instructor who can manage the learning process the way a conductor guides an orchestra. The instructor must create an environment where all this happens and do what is necessary to maintain it so that everyone can play beautiful music.
Is it possible to have a wonderful group learning environment without an instructor?
Maybe. Can an orchestra play without a conductor? Yes. Especially if each member decides to take responsibility for the functioning of the group as the Orpheus Orchestra does. However, it’s easier for group members to focus solely on learning when a good instructor guides it.
Can’t I learn on my own?
Yes, and learning on your own can be a wonderful thing. If you find great learning materials and are diligent, you can figure out how to do just about anything without having a group beside you.
However, solo learning is not nearly as energizing as learning with a great group.
All your experimentation is on your own, you miss out on the dozens of experiments that will be conducted in a shortened time-frame when you learn in a group. You make your own mistakes and learn from them, but you don’t get to learn from the many mistakes of others. As a result, learning is far slower.
Learning alone is inevitable at times, though, and can also be enjoyable, especially when you aren’t concerned with how fast you travel. There are times when I do it and enjoy it. And yet, learning and teaching in a group is often the way to get to your goal more quickly, and it can be a lot of fun too.
Groups can speed up learning because more people are experimenting at the same time and reporting back.
Groups aid learning only when the group feels safe. This is what’s required for people to report on what didn’t work so everyone can learn from it.
It’s useful to have an instructor to have a group run well, but it is not always required if group members all take responsibility for how the group functions.
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In 9 weeks, you can gain the power to eliminate a belief in the time it takes to watch a sitcom. This is what we promise from the Lefkoe Method Training 1. As you know from reading the article above, this learning takes place in a safe group atmosphere that supports you every step of the way. We help you achieve a high degree of fluency through daily practice and reflection. You will learn and even be able to explain what you learn to yourself and others.
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