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How People Learn

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How People Learn

Designing Education and Training that Works to Improve Performance

Kogan Page,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Failing schools and corporate learning systems must design education that addresses learners’ priorities.

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Visionary


Nick Shackleton-Jones provides a searing indictment of education in schools, colleges and organizations. He defines their problems, then offers a sensible solution: Design education and training that addresses learners’ cares and concerns. He calls for replacing current academic and corporate educational systems with resources and experiences with designs that meet learners’ priorities. Shackleton-Jones describes his “Affective Context Model” as the first unified learning theory, the only theory prioritizing emotions as the root of learning. While his approach contains many practical ideas, dismissing everything people thought they knew about learning seems extreme.


A learning-focused education system necessitates continual assessment of individual needs and liberty to explore challenges of escalating difficulty.

Thinking is not distinct from feeling; rather, it is a specific form of feeling. Humans and animals alike communicate their emotions through complex systems of vocalizations (language). Language is primarily used for storytelling to convey experiences and emotions to others. Humans and other animals share similar learning mechanisms.

The present education system is “based on an incorrect understanding of cognition and learning.” It emerged from historical circumstances and industrial age requirements.

An optimal education system should integrate learning and work throughout a person’s life, with a focus on task-based learning stemming from real-world issues. Recognition should be based on accomplishments, influencing employment opportunities.

The “Affective Context Model” offers a new, empirically grounded theory of learning.

The affective context model, “the first general theory of learning,” states, “we store our affective reactions to experiences and use these to reconstruct them.” Learning...

About the Author

Nick Shackleton-Jones is HR Director, Talent & Learning at Deloitte, UK. Previously, he worked for PA Consulting Group, BP, Siemens and the BBC.

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