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May 2018
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TD Magazine

End-to-End Learning

The Art of Learning and Self-Development: Your Competitive Edge

By Jim Stovall and Ray H. Hull
Sound Wisdom, 192 pp., $21.95

Have you ever read a professionally relevant book that left you satisfied and eager to learn more? The Art of Learning and Self-Development certainly qualifies as one. All learning and talent development professionals should have this book in their toolkit.

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Although the book doesn't include checklists, job aids, and the other tools that come standard in many talent development texts, it does include a lot of points for self-reflection and moments that explain exactly what learning is and isn't. Stovall presents experiential learning, and Hull presents the scientific side of learning. Switching between the two perspectives can make reading a challenge at first, but things eventually take a turn for the better. The two perspectives begin to blur as you continue reading, and it becomes hard to see where one ends and the other begins.

The Art of Learning and Self-Development embodies the idea that learning never stops. Readers learn that it's OK when we sometimes stumble and make mistakes. We don't have to be perfect, and acknowledging our shortcomings can make us better at what we do. It encourages us to become living examples of what we teach our learners.

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When I finished this book, I couldn't believe the journey on which it had taken me. I learned about Hull's favorite teacher, Ms. Hamilton, who teaches him at a young age the importance of thinking outside the box and getting out of his comfort zone. Stovall also tells a personal story about his student, Christopher, which made me feel empowered as both a learner and a professional.

Talent development practitioners sometimes take for granted the idea that we, too, are learners. This is what I like most about this book. It caused me to take pause and really think about what I do, why I do it, and how to do it better. I may not remember every single detail Hull presents on the brain, but I will remember that I have my own Ms. Hamilton. I also will remember that a learner analysis is simply asking your learners, "What do you understand?"

If you find yourself running a little low on inspiration or in need of a great quick read, pick up this book. It's a well-rounded text for the well-rounded talent development professional.

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About the Author
Konstance Allen is an instructional systems training specialist at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System.
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