Tapping into what you don’t know you know

Monday was the first of eight sessions in “Coaching as a Learning Catalyst,” an online class I’m taking. The course teaches basic brain science so that the participants can better utilize coachees’ cognitive preferences and learning styles to promote forward movement.

An underlying theory for this class is the knowledge model (from Smart Things to Know About: Knowledge Management by Thomas Koulopoulos and Carl Frappaolo), which divides information into four types:

  • what we know that we know (I’m ready for the test!)
  • what we know that we don’t know (I need to take a class on X subject.)
  • what we don’t know that we don’t know (Ignorance is bliss.)
  • what we don’t know that we know (I have bits of information, but I haven’t connected all the dots yet.)
Creative Commons "brain power" by Allan Ajifo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Creative Commons “brain power” by Allan Ajifo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The goal of learning is to know that we know. Traditional teaching moves students from knowing that they don’t know toward true understanding. The purview of coaching, however, is helping people get from what they don’t know that they know toward confidence and a well-informed plan. The focused questions that coaches ask prompt coachees to bridge the gaps between pieces of information they already have. Unlike purging the brain after a big test, then, the coachee is more likely to retain the connections and act on them, because the parts of the equation were already ingrained.

I’m excited about this class, and I look forward to sharing and using what I (currently) know that I don’t know!

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