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Unlocking learning through new experiences

Opera North are a group of musicians who adopted Windmill Primary school in Belle Isle in Leeds to help them develop their musical ability. The primary aim of the programme is to give children access to music that they couldn’t otherwise afford. What they hadn’t anticipated was that in addition, the children started to make progress in other areas with improvements of up to 20% in their maths and English SAT results.

So how have the free music lessons have led to these academic advances? Well, the children, many of whom can’t afford music lessons, were able to unlock different ways of thinking about problems as well as build up their self-esteem and confidence in what they could achieve. They have taken all this and applied it in other fields.

Introducing innovative approaches to personal and professional development could help unlock different ways of thinking about issues you find in the workplace. It is well known that diverse teams tend to perform better, and are more creative, but how often do we think about diversity in our own personal thinking and development?

The People SIG are planning to explore the opportunities of this approach with The Comedy School who offer the chance to use all aspects of the performing and comedy art-forms to run training and education projects.

Founder Keith Palmer says “We strive to stimulate personal creativity and develop social skills, and have positively touched the lives of many people over the last 17 years.”

Steve Wake, Chair of APM is a fan: “I have known Keith, and admired the work of the Comedy School, for many years. The Comedy School hits a lot of buttons for me. I believe that project professionals benefit from learning outside their formal discipline and context. If we want to lead, and engage with others effectively, we would do well to adopt the skills and techniques of a stand-up comedian. They are generally very intelligent and can teach us a lot. Plus it’s a great example of using diversity to learn from a traditional source. The outcome of the Comedy School programme is to make better citizens.”

The Comedy School, which lists TV stars Jo Brand, Sean Lock, Stephen Mangan and Andi Osho amongst its friends and associates, say that their Learning Thru Laughter programme can help improve their business performance and the effectiveness of teams and individuals. Will it work? Who knows? But I hope we’ll have a good laugh finding out.

Stand Up for The Comedy School 2015; an event to raise awareness of the problem of knife crime is being held Sunday 11 October.

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  1. John Gordon
    John Gordon 08 October 2015, 11:15 AM

    Acting, comedy in fact any form of interaction that helps remember the story is key. We learn best from stories and activities that we enjoy they sync with us and enable change. Let's keep exploring the interacting side of learning as a balance to the technology and online approach. Projects are about people.

  2. Valentina Lorenzon
    Valentina Lorenzon 07 October 2015, 11:32 AM

    The people element is crucial in the success of a project. Unfortunately, especially in certain sectors, professionals underestimate it - even tough, as you mentioned Eleri, diverse teams do perform better. We often learn much more from completely different fields than ours because they give us a new, fresh perspective. Hopefully, this cross-field/discipline learning will become an increasingly important part of our career development.

  3. Merv Wyeth
    Merv Wyeth 07 October 2015, 06:36 AM

    I was delighted to read Eleri’s post and learn that People SIG are planning to use the services of The Comedy School in the future to enhance learning and professional development within the APM.My own quick plug for the worthy Stand Up for the Comedy School 2015 charity event this coming weekend at Hammersmith Eventim Apollo. The Comedy School does some excellent work in steering young people away from knife crime and tackling bullying. The evening looks to me to be great value and I reckon it deserves our support.I know that Branches and SIGs sometimes struggle to ensure that our events are fresh, innovative and engaging. How do our events facilitate all important behaviour change for those that attend? See my recent blog entitled “Change behaviour if you want to create value from events”Finally, I was interested to read of the apparently surprising improvement in Maths SATs scores in primary school children as a result of the free music lessons. Benefits Management, which is key to the success of projects and programmes, is really all about actively seeking out the planned and ‘unexpected’ benefits of any change initiative.Back to the comedy argument. Could this actually help, perhaps in some small way, to create this new world that we strive for in which ‘all projects succeed?’ It’s got to be worth a try!