Changing Minds. How Hard it is. What it means to Learning Professionals.

Since 1998 when I started Work-Learning Research, I've been trying to spread the word about research-based principles of learning. I naively thought that good information would resonate so much that it would change practices industry wide.

I've largely failed in that endeavor up to this point.

That's okay. I've learned a simple truth about influencing others. It's hard.

Take two recent examples outside the learning field. Antibacterial soap and vitamins. It has been widely reported for about five years or so that using antibacterial soap is generally counterproductive. It has also been reported over the last two years or so that taking vitamins may produce no benefits and in some cases can be harmful (see today's article on vitamins).

I've sent many articles on these topics to my family and close friends. Many people just can't incorporate the new information into their old mindsets. We've learned for so long that germs are bad and vitamins are good that we think from those points of view. New information is deflected before it can become part of our new thinking.

As learning professionals, we know that "Telling Ain't Training" and "Training Ain't Performance" (thanks Harold), but we often forget that long-held views are not easily overcome. We need to be more careful and more energetic in confronting them. It's not our learners' fault when they don't make the turn. We have to make it our fault. We have to take responsibility.