Observational Learning is all about learning through observation. This may sound cliche but this is a fact. We go through a multitude of events everyday. Yet, most of us do not experience or think about the experiences we are going through. Each of these experiences are opportunities for us to observe and work upon. In basic terms, when we change our attitude from seeing to observing, we pick upon suttle clues that help us to improve ourselves as well as others. Observational learning is all about recognising such suttle clues and making our environment better.
Lets Start the Blog on Observational Learning!
Like every other Sunday in my life, I woke up at 6 AM. I had tried my best to sleep for an extra hour, but my internal clock just couldn’t clock it in. I had to wake up feeling grumpy as always, and it was in the same mood that I dressed for the morning walk. As I walked down the stairs towards my living room, I heard the whistle from the milk cooker in the kitchen. The milk had come to a boil and it was dutifully whistling. But boy, that loud noise did nothing to improve my mood. Mornings are meant to be quiet. Period. I opened my front door and stepped onto the car porch. I saw my dad in the adjacent garden, watering the mulberry tree.
“Aaha! Fatso is awake! Good Morning!” He greeted me with his usual one-liner and I just shrugged. Mornings are meant for soft greetings and not for loud greetings mingled with insults. Period. As I walked towards the gate, I saw a butterfly fluttering with colorful wings. One long look and I picked out 7 different colors on it. The creature could perch on my thumb and yet, was more colorful than I could ever be. Now that is nice! I continued towards our community park musing on this fact.
Our community park is a wonderment. It was lined with trees and shrubs of all kinds. To say that it’s neatly lined would be an overstatement. To say it’s wildly lined would be an understatement. The security guard who doubles as the Gardner had let the park grow. While he nurtured the plants that were there, he also let the weed creep in. So, it wasn’t weird to see rose bushes adjacent to pigweed with oak in the background. But yes, the air was fresh, and one could spend hours here indulging in all sorts of activities ranging from age-old yoga to modern exercises and therapy.
One could even sleep on the park bench if one did not mind the occasional mosquitoes. I started with a light thread. I flexed my hands, turned my neck to the sides, kicked out a bit to loosen up, and then started jogging. As I jogged, I heard a Cuckoo’s call. Another call nearby followed it. I looked up and there they were! Two magnificent birds perched on long stems opposite each other. They were communicating and my, my that was amazing. What could they be talking about? Maybe they were in love and were complimenting one another? Or could it be that both were mothers and were bragging about their kids? Or maybe, just maybe they were total strangers who had just met?
The sound of laughter awoke me from this trace. I had finally reached the part of the park where people met for the latest fad: Laughter therapy. People of all ages would gather around and start laughing as they exercised. There were old uncles with pot bellies and white mustaches that went up and down as they laughed, there were aunties in nighties and spectacles so thick you knew they could see through your soul, there were kids who ran around laughing. there were young handsome men and beautiful women who liked to look at each other as they laughed.
All of them would look at each other and laugh. They would look away and laugh. They would hold hands and laugh, they would sit down, and you got it right, Laugh! Just laugh and laugh. And this made me laugh. What a great day to be alive. I walked back to my home. My dad was still there, smoking his morning cigarette. I looked at him and said, good morning dad, fatso is back.
Not a word I said in the above narrative is true (except for the fat part :P) and yet, all of you could imagine it. You were with me as I woke up and were still there as I went back home. You could imagine the steam from the milk cooker, the colours on the butterfly, smell the roses, hear the cuckoo and see the potbellies of those uncles giggle as they laughed. That is the beauty of observation.
Everyone around us has a story to tell. They may not say it explicatively, but we have the power to observe and complete the story. It’s easy to judge a person for being late, for taking leave, for not being professional, or for missing deadlines. But maybe they were late because they had to cook for their kids, they had to take leave because they had to take their parents to the doctor, they were not professional because they were in a bad mood over a fight at home, or missed the deadline due to genuine IT issues. No one is going to say it out loud, but as humans, we have the ability to observe and understand.
My Aaha! moment in this observational learning came into existence when I was a part of the school play of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. We were in the middle of the rehearsal scene where Brutus and the rest stab Caesar in the back and my friend who played Caesar just turned around and slapped Brutus right in the face. We were all shocked, and did not know what to do and the rehearsal was canceled for the day.
Later, my friend admitted that he had friction with the other kid since they met. So great was his problem with the other kid that, when he was stabbed with the fake knife, he believed it to be true and had reacted. Anyone who saw them around each other could have easily picked It up: the eyes that almost never met, the glare when they did meet, not staying in the same room until required, all of these were cues for us and yet we never picked it up. But now it made sense and we took the necessary steps to reduce the tension.
The world is filled with possibilities and everyone can have a different story. Let’s observe more and paint the canvas with stories, stories that help us grow together, be together and help each other. So, let’s tell the story together!
Do you have any stories based on observational learning? If yes, please do share it with us! We would love to hear from you 😀 & do check out our latest blogs.