The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts


It is a phenomenon I’ve naturally been aware of: I forget things.

I’ve also known for a long time how much I forget and find myself regularly amazed as to how much it is, for example, when I go through the notes of a training I attended.

Reading and listening to Ellen Langer I had been aware that we somewhat naturally invest our energy where it seems to be the most useful. We’ll remember the things that we perceive to be important for us. A trainer for example will quickly learn the names of the participants attending a workshop but may quickly forget them after the workshop. That is if the names don’t have a chance to enter the long-term memory through regular repetition.

But I’ve been underestimating the power of forgetting. It might very well be one of the most underestimated aspects of learning, Doug Lemov talks about the overwhelming role of forgetting in the learning process.

Independently from the insights someone has had or what we’ve seen them able to do, it takes much more work to make it durable. As a coach, I may be betting on the insights that can be accessed during coaching, but I shouldn’t be betting on them being sustainable.

An insight is a short moment of clarity, it is the ability to see something that has not been visible before. Whatever it is, there is no guarantee that it will stay with the coachee or me. Some such insights need to be revisited several times until they make sense in a way that can be described, become actionable, and can transform into an experience that can be recalled.


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