Knowers or Learners?

Are you creating a culture that honors knowers or learners on your team or in your classroom? When you honor knowers, you honor answers. When you honor learners, you honor questions. Knowers value being right. Learners value being curious. Knowers are often quick to come up with answers. Learners may take their time to find the right questions or identify the true problem. As a child, I grew up in a family system that valued ‘knowers’. I quickly became silent, discouraged, and less confident not only at home but also at school. Many of my childhood classrooms and adult work environments honored ‘knowers’. When I finally reached a work environment that created a culture for ‘learners’ to thrive, I also began to grow and thrive. Brené Brown describes being a learner as having the courage ‘not to know.’ Which culture are you promoting? These are just some ways you might be creating a culture that values ‘knowers’ or ‘learners’.

Knowers, do you…Learners, do you…
•Fire questions and expect quick responses? (playing rapid-fire games that give praise to the first correct response)?
•Give directions once and reward those who ‘get it’ quickly?
•Move quickly through content, expecting your students/team members to figure it out or keep up?
•Ask questions and allow think time and response time?
•Encourage your team/students to ask clarifying questions?
•Deliver content in a variety of ways in order to meet the varying learning styles of your team or classroom?

So, what’s the problem with creating and elevating ‘knowers’? Brené Brown describes the problem well. When you invest in being a ‘knower,’ you always need to be right. You may become defensive. It becomes unpleasant to be around a ‘knower’ and it can lead to distrust, bad decision-making processes, and conflict.

What’s the advantage of building a team of learners? When you build a team of learners, you are cultivating individuals who are not afraid to ask questions, make mistakes, and learn. This culture of learners develops and encourages confident, curious, and courageous human beings to be their best selves and do their best work.