This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.



Tom Salinsky reflects on why it’s easier to teach new skills to children


sually, when I’m training, if I ask for a volunteer to help me demonstrate something

to the rest of the group, it takes ages to get one and when I do they look a little ill (see last month’s column). But sometimes when I’m running a workshop, I ask for a volunteer and I see a forest of hands. Sometimes people will be out of their seats before I’ve even finished the sentence, that’s how eager they are to be my volunteer. But there’s only one group of people I know who reliably behaves like this: children. If I face a room full of eight-

year-olds and say: “Can I have a volunteer?” they start going: “Me, me, please pick me!” All they want is to have lots of goes. Tat’s their mission. Tat’s their metric for success: how many goes did I have? Adults approach this situation very

differently. We would much rather watch somebody else do it first. During which time we can analyse it. See if we think that is something we would be good at. Run a sort of simulation in our im- aginations: what would that be like if it was me doing it? And then, if we think we’d be successful, we are prepared to have a go. But if we don’t think we’d be successful, we’d rather have no go at all. Children want lots of goes.

Adults want one perfect go. But you don’t get one perfect go. You have to keep having lots

38 | August 2016 | @TrainingJournal

of goes, because it’s the only way to learn and that means not being so invested in the quality of any one go. Here’s another example. Let’s say that at the fairground there are two rival coconut shies. One offers you three balls for £1. Te other offers you only one ball for the same £1. Which will you give your money to? Most people would say the first one. Not only is it better value, you don’t really expect to be able to knock off the coconut with your first ball. With the first ball, you’re really just gathering data. But if you are a foot to the left with your first ball and six inches to the right with your second ball, then with your third ball you might hit the target and take home your prize. Now imagine I’ve said you can

have three goes at demon- strating something in

Adults want one perfect go. But you don’t get one perfect go

front of the rest of the group, or only one. Now most people will choose the second option, because this doesn’t feel like three opportunities to gather data, it feels like three opportunities to be embarrassed or humiliated. But the best workshops feel like a

lab, not a test. A place to experiment and try new things without needing all our goes to be perfect. Children know this instinctively, which is why it’s so easy to teach most children new things, and so hard to teach some adults.

Tom Salinsky is an actor, improviser, writer, teacher and trainer. He is also a director of the Spontaneity Shop. Follow him @tomsalinsky

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40