The HR Juggler

Like Riding A Bike…

Posted on: May 27, 2012

The last few weekends have involved a lot of bike riding…or more accurately a lot of learning to ride a bike. Over the last three weekends, my 6-year-old daughters have mastered riding their bikes without stabilizers and then upgrading from their small 14″ wheel bikes to a much bigger, heavier 20″ wheel frame. The former is certainly a life skill, the latter necessary because of how much taller they have become…yet once we arrived back home with the new bikes, I was concerned we were moving too fast and pushing them to do something they were not yet ready for or capable of doing.

It’s no exaggeration to say I could hardly bear to watch Mr C teaching them and quickly realised I was most help to the challenge by leaving him and the eager pupils to it. And of course, they managed it…a few wobbles, a few falls, plenty of determination and remarkably few tears. At the end of the first day of trying on the bigger bikes, I showed them the considerable difference in size between their previous bikes and their new ones, and already at that time they were amazed at how little the old bikes were and how strange it felt to sit on them. They had no wish to go back to the familiar old bikes…far from it, even though they hadn’t yet got the hang of riding the new ones to the same level of competence.

So, I’ve learned and been reminded of a few things myself this weekend: that people have as many different ways of teaching skills as we do of learning them and that mine are not always the most successful; that taking risks doesn’t always have to be as scary as we sometimes think it is; that determination and enthusiasm are often the most powerful qualities in learning new skills and that other people’s fear of potential negative consequences can easily be misplaced, however well-intended. Sometimes a cautious consideration of the learning strategy is aprropriate…at other times, the most effective way to get there, is just to have someone give you a huge push and trust you will get there!

Somehow I don’t think it will be too long before my kids appreciate the saying “it’s like riding a bike…” 😉

What have you learned lately? I’d love to know.



9 Responses to "Like Riding A Bike…"

I learned I don’t like riding bikes – so I stopped! For me, as much as knowing our preferred teaching and learning styles, it’s as important to know what we actually enjoy teaching and learning… I reckon I’ve just about figured what I love 🙂

You’ve touched on something really interesting here about the learner and the deliverer. For me, it makes me question whether I am being mindful enough of the approach I take in developing L&D solutions. What this means is that I think I know best for my learning group. I never get complacent about that, and forever make it a facilitated learning event, but I am quite clear on the direction they need to go. Maybe that’s what you’re talking about above?

Love the photos of the Chislettes, well done them!

So we all do things differently and as long as they can ride a bike it does not matter how they got there. So long as they keep the passion for cycling then thats all that matters.
Same for L&D life too?

[…] Like Riding A Bike… ( […]

Go Chislettes!
You are absolutely right in that it is really vital to be flexible in terms of teaching style. I echo what Sukh says – it’s important to be super aware of what may or may not work for any given learner. And also to focus on the person’s motivation to learn. As you say, your girls were really determined to give it a go. (There is a marvellous book on this stuff, called Wise Up, by Guy Claxton – an easy read and great for parents).
At the weekend my husband taught our little nephew, age 4, some football skills. He isn’t the most intrepid of little footballers, but by making it fun with lots of high fiving, and giving lots of praise, he made great progress.
On the other hand, in March I started to learn to ride a motorbike. Much to the horror of my friends. But whilst the first day of training went ok, I didn’t enjoy myself. Afterwards I realised that my motivation to learn was all skew whiff. I was solely motivated to pass my test so that I could ride a bike to work and shave 15 mins off my commute time. A negative motivation if ever there was one. So I stopped with the motorbiking.

Some great comments on the learning experiences here. I’d just like to add well done to Katie and Jess. In this world of computers and junk food it’s uplifting to see two more cyclists clearly having fun. Keep up the great work 🙂

Having kids provides great insight into learning – I learn loads from my son’s learning! (Too many learnings in one sentence?) – Great post!

I am rather late in responding to all these lovely comments….but thank you!!!!!

Sometimes we need someone with a different way of teaching to give us a push to learn something new. Whether it is riding a bike or taking on a brand new project in the office, as long as you have a capable leader and mentor, you can do it! And whether you’re the student or a cheerleader for the student, positive feedback and enthusiasm will go a long way. Thank you for sharing this post!

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