Margin Notes: Are you utilizing surprise in your corporate learning?

CAT GIF • Funny Cat playing hard with his green fidget spinner.gif

Be honest. Were you expecting to see a cat playing with a fidget spinner on Abilitie’s blog? Do you know what that GIF and your amygdala, a pleasure center in your brain, have to do with each other?

I’ll hazard a guess that you were not expecting the cat and that you don’t know the connection between the cat and your amygdala. It will all come together.

You’ll remember this post as the one on Abilitie’s blog that kicked off with a GIF of a cat playing with a fidget spinner (surprise hit of 2017) and then asked you if you know anything about the amygdala. 

The image was unexpected, I’ve repeated the statement in different words four times, and (bonus) I picked a picture that was likely to make you laugh. Moments of surprise, especially moments of surprise pleasure, help to anchor memories in the brain. This post is a basic example of the power of surprise.

This is a margin note meant to get our brains moving a little bit, so I won’t dig too deeply into the science (you can read up on that here and here). 

All I’ll do is prompt the following question: are you spending much time thinking about your learners’ attention? If you are, how are you optimizing your learning to keep their attention? Do you use moments of surprise and unpredictability?


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