No quote has arrested my attention more in the past four years than this one from Parker J. Palmer.
“Authentic teaching and learning requires a live encounter with the unexpected, an element of suspense and surprise, an evocation of that which we did not know until it happened.“
In the course of four decades as a professional teacher, trainer and consultant, I have engaged with over 5000 diverse individuals in some form of educational context. In most cases, it was formalized and contained.
Serendipity certainly can and does happen within controlled environments, but it is far more likely to occur when discovery is built intentionally into the process. When there is room to explore, investigate and test assumptions. When outcomes aren’t prescribed but found.
In the daily grind of professional life, we give far too much attention to what we can control, what we can expect, what we can measure in granular detail. Palmer’s quote highlights the necessity of creating space for authentic learning to occur. Learning that will surprise us on the other end of the experience.
In business and every other form of professional life, we have to continually learn. And someone has to be the teacher. If it’s your turn to be the instructor, give some thought on how you will introduce your topic, and how you can set the stage for genuine learning to occur.