On the eve of the Mayweather
v Pacquiao fight
which has been billed as the ‘most lucrative fight in history
in Las Vegas’
(http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/boxing/32558065)
I think it’s a good time to consider what boxing has to offer training and
development
. The strategies which are core to the sport are transferrable to
the learning experience, some of these include:

  • * Understanding yourself, your strengths,
    weaknesses and how these could be developed or exposed.
  • *Having a ‘game plan’ and a ‘fall-back’ position
    to enable you to get through the fight in the same way we can understand
    the training needed and the importance of a plan to work to.
  • * Managing yourself and your energy to avoid burn
    out. This is important in high stress situations but is a common issue for
    researchers, knowing how much energy or push to give without exhausting
    reserves.

Burn out is a particular
concern
and the structure of ‘boxing rounds’ provides a useful approach in
breaking things down into smaller or ‘bite-sized’ chunks.

According to SHIFT’s
eLearning Blog ‘bite-sized has always been the right size’ (http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/342367/The-Age-of-Bite-sized-Learning-What-is-It-and-Why-It-Works).
With many elearning providers and higher education institutions now choosing to
promote training and development in this way, what are the benefits? SHIFTs
approach states that bite-sized learning improves psychological engagement:

‘It takes away boredom
itself. Instead of spending 90 or more minutes, learners will be motivated to
consume short, snappy yet meaningful content.

This approach can help
prevent mental burnout. Moreover, it encourages students to carefully process
information—not hastily and thoughtlessly consume an overwhelming amount of
data.’

My personal thought on this
is that we like to measure our own improvement and development. By having a
series of bite-sized modules, this helps us visualise and track progress as
well as preventing content overload
.

The first rule of fight club
is that you don’t talk about fight club!
The second rule of fight club is that
you don’t talk about fight club! The third rule… well you know how this goes!
This familiar phrase from the 1999 film ‘Fight Club’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight_Club
is apt to discuss important mental health issues which are not currently being
addressed. In the film and novel we see the main character fight with others
and himself as he struggles to deals with his own stresses and emotions with
dramatic consequences. The real life struggles that exist for those with mental
health issues are serious and should be considered.
Whilst we may not see them
manifest as a film or as violence we do need be aware of them and make
adjustments in a learning and development context.

As the first rule of fight
club states, we don’t talk about it!
This is true to all mental health issues
and whilst stress is now being more actively discussed, most people are still
reluctant to talk about mental health more generally. An open approach is
required and there is a training need to understand more about it so that we
can identify issues, know how to approach and provide support where it is
needed.

What we think and feel
affects every part of our lives and so will impact the way we learn, can
receive information and the ability to take it on-board. There needs to be
wider recognition of mental health but not as a disability which it is often
seen as but as a different learning style.
There is some evidence to suggest
that coaching techniques such as ‘mindfulness’ may benefit adults with mental
health issues and these techniques may also prove beneficial to the wider
learning community to help focus on the training activity. It’s important to
consider from a development perspective that those with mental health issues
may need different learning support. This could be providing additional time,
packaging training in a different way or simply being more aware about these
issues. Many learners ‘fight’ on a daily basis to simply get through the day if
they are under stress. Finding the time to learn and the ‘mental space’ to
retain information can be challenging.
Stress is considered to be on the lower
end of the spectrum of mental health issues so you can imagine the difficulties
which may be encountered by those with more serious health issues. However, if
we can understand these challenges better and see it from the learners
perspective perhaps we can develop a way to cater for all learners training
needs.

It’s round one – the need to
support mental health issues in a learning environment is only just starting to
be recognised. We now need to consider, what we can do to facilitate learning
and support this moving forward and get ready for the next round! Seconds out…..