Pragmativity is a watchword for us at Matrix FortyTwo. It provides the basis of the design, development, delivery and evaluation of our programmes so it is fairly important that we understand it.
But what does it mean?
Well, Pragmativity is a new word that I invented to explain the opposite of those times when creativity goes mad. You know the type of thing:
- ‘let’s all stand on each other’s shoulders and drum on the ceiling!’
- ‘make like a tree to experience the wind in your branches’
Now these are extremes, of course, but some ‘creative’ interventions that should have had very good learning outcomes are often missed through the lack of a clear understanding of what they were intended to achieve in the first place and/or a poor debrief at the end of the activity. This has, in the past, got creativity in training some bad press and I totally agree with them.
As soon as someone on a workshop says ‘now we’re going to have some fun’ or ‘we’re going to play a game now’ my heart sinks
But there is an alternative - pragmatic creativity AKA Pragmativity – where creative interventions can be used to great effect as long as the purpose and application of the creativity is at the forefront.
If you don’t know what it is going to achieve, don’t do it!
Make interventions enjoyable but don’t undermine the outcome by calling it ‘fun’ or ‘just a game’. Pragmativity is a serious concept because it means that the learners don’t need to know just how much effort we put into making the activity meaningful, engaging and enjoyable.
I blame ‘evaluation’ and ‘brain-friendly learning’ for the rise in mad creativity!
The obsession that many of our colleagues have about getting their ‘happy sheets’ to confirm that everyone has enjoyed the event means that they will endeavour to entertain rather than educate. So they take to ‘brain-friendly learning’ techniques in an attempt to lighten the load.
Of course, if they were really using brain-friendly learning techniques there would be no need to lighten anything because the load would not be felt by the learners.
Learning is made easy if the learning facilitator knows what they want to learn and incorporates Pragmativity into the use of brain-friendly tools and techniques.
Then, the real evaluation is seen not in the happy sheets but back in the workplace, where it matters, because the learning was real, had a known and realised purpose and was sticky enough to stay around after the event.
Jooli Atkins is the heart of Matrix FortyTwo. Her philosophy and passion shape the business on a daily basis. Jooli has been working in the IT Profession for almost 30 years, mostly in IT training and leads one of the few organisations using Brain Friendly Learning techniques in IT training and consultancy.
watchtower image by juandiegojr