Johnnie Moore

The spatula game (and learning vs teaching)

what we can learn about learning from a toddler's playtime
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Why explaining might get in the way of learning

Transcript of this video:

The spatula game is a term used by the pioneering paediatrician and analyst Donald Winnicott to describe what happens when a toddler is with its mother and the toddler has got hold of a wooden spatula and is trying to figure out what it is and it might bang the spatula on the table and sniff it and taste it and generally mess about and explore what this thing might be.

And the mother will be tempted to say to the child, “Ah, this is a spatula. You use it to stir food.”

Winnicott says there are two ways the child can respond to that. And the first way is to throw a temper tantrum and be really upset. And he describes that as the most healthy response.

The other way is the child becomes subdued and halfheartedly engages with the teaching that the mother provides.

And I think it’s a mistake we often make in our lives and in our organizations that we make the mistake of the mother in insisting on explaining things to people thinking that we are being helpful, not leaving them a little more time to follow their own natural curiosity, which I think is often a much more interesting and engaging way to keep people learning.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Share Post

More Posts

More Updates

Emotional debt

Releasing the hidden costs of pent up frustrations


Finding the aliveness below the surface of stuck

Johnnie Moore

Creative thinking

Here’s a bit of er… creative thinking from NatWest bank as reported by the excellent Zopa blog. NatWest customers were complaining about the length of time they had to wait

Johnnie Moore

links for 2010-03-12

Logorama: The Oscar Winning Animated Short Now Online | Open Culture Facilitation – Evaluation – Beyond the Edge – Viv McWaters "I think it’s time we recognised speeches key note

Johnnie Moore

Dirty linen in public?

The debate on the Micrsoft Anti-Discrimination policy continues with some very interesting comments emerging. There are quite a few strands to the debate now, but I want to focus on

Johnnie Moore

Facilitation workshop

I’m planning a one-day workshop for facilitators on July 18th in London. As in the past the format will be loosely structured and highly experiential. Details here.