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The Importance of Being “Learning Agile”

January 31, 2013

I recently read a white paper titled, “Learning About Learning Agility” by Adam Mitchison and Robert Morris, Ph.D.  The paper talks about leadership skills and the learning traits necessary to succeed in the current world of rapid change.  They describe the collection of traits and skills being “learning agile”.

Learning-agile individuals practice disciplined personal development in five ways:

  • Innovating: They are not afraid to challenge the status quo
  • Performing: They remain calm in the face of difficulty
  • Reflecting: They take time to reflect on their experiences
  • Risking: They purposefully put themselves in challenging situations
  • Defending: They are simply open to learning and resist the temptation to become defensive in the face of adversity

Of these five facets of learning agility, leaders consistently report risk-taking to be the hardest to enact within their organizations.  Learning-agile individuals tend to be more social, creative, focused and resilient. They are less interested in accommodating others and are not afraid to challenge norms. Learning-agile behaviors matter to others; managers seem to value those who are less defensive and who are open to feedback; peers and direct reports appear to value those who are more reflective and willing to change.

The paper is an excellent reminder of the skills we need as adults.  The concepts detailed in the paper should also help guide us as we develop our learning objectives for our students.  As the Saline Area Schools Mission Statement says, “Our ultimate goal is to instill in our students a desire for lifelong learning.”  This statement has never been more true.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 31, 2013 12:06 pm

    Wow, this is a very relevant white paper, particulary the point that an individual’s skill-set at a certain point in time is of “secondary importance to their ability to learn new knowledge, skills and behaviors.” Thanks for the great read!

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