Language Parenting and Innovation

In recently released article in Pediatrics, researchers explored the acquisition of language and the significant role that parental behaviors play in the process. Language development is one of the most crucial milestones in childhood and has been shown to predict occupational and academic success as well as social cohesion and psychological health. And so, distinguishing the specific parental characteristics that enhance or harm language acquisition is vital.

In this paper, the researchers refer to what is now being called “language parenting” – specific behaviors in which parents are attuned to the emotional and physical cues of their child, thus creating a better way to explore and learn from their environment. This study provides strong evidence that children who are surrounded by such behaviors are 280% more likely to develop strong linguistic abilities compared to children without such influences.

It should be noted that certain innovation trends, like mystifying technologies like blockchain and quantum computing, are like mini languages. And in the same way, pedagogical approaches similar to language parenting can help business executives accelerate their acquisition of technology fluency, which is vital for leading corporate transformation by innovation.

For example, an effective innovation training offering would not only provide a glossary of terminology, but would strive to use terms in context through an immersive experience, such as a “design sprint”. This is because the best way to learn is via “learning by doing” and for emerging technologies, there's no better way to get your hands dirty than by implementing a design sprint. A design sprint is an opportunity for accelerated learning, as participants seek to enable a mindshift that makes it possible to see and think in a new way. So everything falls in place and makes sense. After a design sprint, you can look at blockchains or quantum computing with new eyes. Once you move out of your cognitive comfort zone, creative thoughts can begin to flow. 

Language parenting behaviors are also known as language stimulation activities, and include enhanced engagement in back-and-forth communication, using words in context, storytelling, and support in expressing longer sentences and more complex thoughts. However, the most important factor is having a caring partner in the development of oral language, who upholds the idea of the child as a competent learner from birth. 

In our work, in training executives to gain greater technological literacy, we strive toward excellence in pedagogy via related techniques like flipping the classroom, peer mentoring, “learning by doing” and a focus on experiential learning. Another technique is to use engaging storytelling to drive deeper, visceral understanding, which is superior to listening to boring didactic lectures full of technical jargon. Heck, we’ve even facilitated walking over broken glass to access states of pedagogical bonding and “adrenaline based learning”. 

Another technique is to use engaging storytelling to drive deeper, visceral understanding, which is superior to listening to boring didactic lectures full of technical jargon. On the flip side, it’s useful to encourage executives express new terminology with greater confidence. In our workshops, we have a fun exercise called “active bullshitting”, in which participants take the stage and face questions about the technology at hand, and encouraged to answer them with confidence even if they aren't 100% certain what they’re talking about. This helps the executive learn certain nuances to sound "more like a native than an immigrant"... because anyone over 40 is essentially a digital immigrant.

Also, the adrenaline of public speaking triggers enough norepinephrine to stimulate greater neural plasticity, which causes the learning process to accelerate. This one time we did the exercise, an executive who professed not knowing anything about blockchains remarked afterwards, “This was weird, just assuming the physical stance of knowing somehow made me feel more confident, and the answers occurred to me out of the blue, as if my subconscious knew the answers and my conscious side needed to catch up.” I heard that a few weeks later, he launched a blockchain incubator – from zero to 60 in a 48 hours. This exercise is based on upholding the idea of the subject as a competent learner from the start.

However, the most important factor is having a consultant/trainer who can serve as a “language parent” – a committed partner who actually cares about your success and will actively engage to make sure you achieve fluency. That’s the secret sauce for more effective technology and innovation trainings!

At FutureLab, we have designed training programs based on the concepts of immersive and experiential learning, on storytelling as a path to intuitive understanding, and on language parenting to insure that trainings are optimal. These trainings cost a bit more than your typical didactic classes and lectures. It’s an interactive process, based on dialogue and co-inventing your future, that offers the fastest path to technology literacy.

Ask about our blockchain and quantum computing based training programs and design sprint workshops. You can get the workbooks on Amazon if you want to learn more – BLOCKCHAIN DESIGN SPRINT and QUANTUM DESIGN SPRINT

It takes many years to master a new language, and it's much easier for children because of good parenting. For executives, using such techniques can accelerate learning, and the best time to begin is right now!


This article was co-authored by Claire Rumore and Moses Ma.