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Learning States as a Frame-of-Mind

If adult educators miss out on the state the learner is in, they may find that good training material does not get the required results. Managing the state of your trainees, and using their existing know-how, are dance-partners to effective training. Using the outcome-drivenness of human brains adds value to achieving and transferring training outcomes.

If one took a snapshot of a person at any one moment one could rightly describe
their state of being at that moment as a “state”. People are always in “states”. You cannot not be in a state. But, the word used, state, has slowly gotten a negative connotation and is being reserved for describing a “negative state”, rather than a neutral designation of any state. Further, state are used as synonyms with negative emotions, as if the thinking component that makes up the building blocks of states are not relevant.

What are States?
States are the quality of your mind-body presence at any one time. Acceptable
alternatives to think of would be attitude, inclination, etc. Let me start with the mind part of states. Whatever is important to you at the time determines what you pay attention to. It selectively focuses your thoughts on the screen of the mind and highlights for you what is in the foreground of your thoughts, what you are mentally occupied with. Because it is important to you, your body gets into the act of supporting your thoughts by embodying the meaning which your mind is busy with. Your body responds in sympathy with what is on the screen of your mind, and her you have the two “royal roads” to state.

The effect of states are that they act as frames-of-mind which determines not only what you pay attention to but also how you pay attention to it. Let us use the word attitude for now in the place of “state”. You attitude determines both the content of your thinking as well as the range of your thinking. If you are hot (energetic, confident, ready to go, primed for success, are running thoughts of being willing and able) then the quality of your thinking will be decidedly different from when you are in a slump, or swimming in a bit of despondency.

There are states therefore that are more conducive to certain kinds of mental operations, and certain states will inhibit the same kind of mental operation. The question to one self is simply: is my current state helping my thinking and achieving my outcomes? If my state is not appropriate to, or serving, my current way of achieving outcomes, what state would be more helpful? And this is where some readers might wonder: “Are states/attitudes changeable? And if yes, how easily?” The practical answer is “change your mind and your attitude/state will change with it.”

One short qualification to changing states. States are referring to the partnership
between mind and the state of your body. Not-well bodies have an impact on the
state of your thinking, especially if the not-wellness of your body reaches significant or intense levels which “intrudes” on the screen of your mind, it “inserts” itself into the content of your thinking.
Then your thinking becomes like your bodily state and it becomes like a magnet: you seem to be only capable of thinking thoughts like that. Take anger for instance, or a state of significant boredom. Until the experience of either changes, it is like your thoughts get attracted to think only angry or boring thoughts. This is called state dependency. If your state reaches a certain level of intensity your thoughts and emotions become involved in a dance where the one reinforces the other. Change now takes a bit more skill, but, interrupt the pattern, and you are in another state and your mind seems to be free again.

Learning States
To consider what learning state would be best for learning, I would like to start by asking “What is your outcome in your learning exercise?”

When you learn, you perform a programming task. You form yourself— your mind, emotions, habits, patterns, knowledge, etc. You construct your sense of ‘reality.” All of your learnings and your very habit of learning are just “constructions.” That means you have learned to learn the way you now learn—and if your currently learning style doesn’t serve you well, you can unlearn that and learn a much more empowering style.

Learning therefore describes the organizing of mind (actually, the mind-body system) in order to empower you to handle a knowledge governed domain—so that you can effectively master your style of relating to the world.
How one “in-forms” the mind is outcome related. The outcome determines the nature of the learning process, which will determine the state appropriate to the process. If the training outcome is to give information and get understanding, the state required would be different if the outcome is the mastery and demonstration of a competency. When the outcome is understanding, it requires the person to organise information with reference to their internal recognition of “I understand”. That they understand correctly may then be tested through how and what information they supply when asked.

For a person to be competent understanding might play a (lesser) role, but additionally the person need to do a “mind-to-muscle-translation” of the information so that it will be available at the level of behavior and/or language. If this mind-to-muscle part does not happen, people will “know but not do”, since it is neurologically stored as information but not as a behavioral possibility. The state for doing behaviorally and the state for knowing can be in partnership, but they are different. If the reader is getting the suspicion that there is no one “best” learning state, you are spot on! Not only are their a multitude of learning states which further differs from person to person, but depending on the learning outcome, combinations of states (gestalt states) might be better suited for facilitating the internal processes required.

Frames for Learning
1) Access the Right State
Are you in the right state for learning? All learning, at every level, and within every stage involves “state dependency.” Accelerated learning results from being able to effectively manage your states ∓mp; thinking about your states, and to step into “the right state” when you need it.

2) Refuse the Learning Sabotages
Some beliefs and states of mind-and-emotion undermine, interfere with, and sabotage
the ability to learn. These must be rejected and refused.

3) Commit Your Whole Mind and Body to Accelerated Learning
An empowering decision to learn, to become a ferocious learner, to use our mind
for learning—accelerates our ability and skills in learning.

4) Set the Right Frames for Learning.
To bring the right state of mind to bear on our learning we need to have useful frames-about-learning that allows us to have appropriate positive experiences with which we approach our learning as well as having during our learning.

5) Tap the Key Learning Factors.
There are certain factors involved in learning that we have to recognize, adjust ourselves to and learn to use in order to experience expert level learning.

6) Incorporate the Highest Quality Principles of Learning into your Muscles.
As in any other field, there are certain principles that govern the learning process. This makes learning them and installing them into our muscles crucial.

7) Gracefully Accept and Move through the Learning Stages.
There are stages in the process and have to be negotiated— which means acceptance of our incompetence when we begin!

8) Develop a Strategic Learning Approach to the Levels of Learning.
All learning does not occur on the same level. After primary level learnings, we advance to the learning of frames. We have to use a different strategy on each Learning Level. There are levels to learning, so adapting a strategic attitude assists in developing accelerated learning. This also leads to Meta-Learning Skills — when we learn about our learning. The Levels of Learning involve how we layer level upon level and so move from associative meanings and framing to representational encoding of information and then on to higher level framing that involves abstract concepts.

9) A bad conceptual relationship to the very idea of “learning”
will totally undermine and prevent you from discovering, accessing, and enhancing
your Learning Genius.

Some things to do in creating Learning States
The above 8 points quoted from Hall’s manual are really the “higher frames” or “meta-frames” (frames above, beyond, about) of the content and the method of the learning process. These meta-frames is the mind-set for both the trainer and the learner to undertake this journey of learning as a way of facilitating the appropriate learning state(s). Both the presentation methods and the language patterns the trainer uses can help or hinder the above frames. To follow are three examples of ways of how to implement some of these meta-frames so that the trainer can assist the learner in accessing and maintaining the appropriate learning state.

a) Establishing a Learning Contract
As a preferred early activity the learner is asked to consider their personal outcomes for the learning they are about to embark on, given the content of the program. This does two things, namely it allows the learner to language and state their own outcomes so that they can hear their own “big why?” for being there. It is their commitment to themselves as well as to the trainer to take mutual responsibility for training outcomes. It also allows the trainer to use their own “big why” to intensify or add to their outcome
orientation. Secondly, it allows the trainer to hear any expectations about the learning which might be unrealistic and can be dealt with immediately.

b) Meta-stating Implementation
One of the spin offs in this information age is that information is god. Knowing is frequently considered enough without consideration to effect, practicality or consequences. This means that unless the person is “programmed for usage in context specific circumstances” this could be filed like any other piece of information as “only information”. This mind-set prevents the transfer of training into the workplace: people will frequently say that they knew what to do, but forgot to apply it when they needed to do it.

c) Creating Learning Attractors
The Frames we set in our Mind create attractors that operate in a self-organizing way in our experiences. That which is very important to us, that we rate highly, which has a strong emotional charge, etc. acts like attractors in our mind in the sense that they act as magnets which filters out everything not like them. We therefore pay selective attention to that which is attracted by our frames-of-mind. The other information does not go away but they form the background to that which fits the attractors. How does the trainer in using case stories, metaphors and reference experiences create and maintain the attractors conducive to outcome based learning? Are they doing it in ways that fit and work for the audience? Do they have enough of a variety to enhance the learning points of the program?

Effective outcome based learning is a state dependent activity. People come in their states, and they present themselves in that state, and it is up to the trainer to facilitate the best state(s) possible conducive to learning by influencing the frames-of-reference people operate from during learning.

References
Michael Hall (2000): “Accessing Your Emotional Genius”. Neuro-Semantics
Trainers Manual, Society of Neurosemantics: www.neurosemantics.com; p. 12
From Michael Hall’s (2001) “Accessing Your Learning Genius”
Society of Neurosemantics Trainers Manual, p.13