Talking to the Elephant


When you’re facilitating in front of a class, one of the most challenging things is to garner the attention of the participants. In this internet era, attention is our most limited resource. Then, how do we garner participant’s attention?

It’s time to talk to the elephant. Jonathan Haidt, in his book “The Happiness Hypothesis,” analogizes the human brain like an elephant and its rider. Actually, Haidt talked about two parts of the human brain. Riders are likened to the controlled and conscious mind. Meanwhile, the Elephant is the feeling, the emotion, and the intuition.

What we have to realize is that the elephant is bigger and stronger than the rider. If the elephant and rider were to be in conflict, who do you think will win?

Each participant has their own elephant. There are those who are trying to focus the attention of their conscious mind, while their elephant is forcing them to sleep. Meaning that, if their elephant does not engage, then participants will have difficulty to focus their attention. The rider can force the elephant to give its attention, but it will be very tiring. Therefore, we must engage the elephant, but how?

The one thing you should realize that the elephant is a creature full of curiosity. Therefore use various teaching methods, such as storytelling, surprises, games, and an interesting question. The diversity of teaching methods will give strength to the rider to control the elephant.

Source: Design for How People Learn


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