• Ian Gibbs

7 Ways To Ruin A Learning Club


It was Denis Waitley who said “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”


Nevertheless, some failures are better than others. The worst sort being those which you could have easily avoided with a minimum of thought, or put in another way, those where you seemed to be deliberately trying to fail from the beginning.


If you’re running a Learning Club (or almost any club, for that matter) then here are a few ways you can choose to deliberately fail if you want to.


1: Don’t Have A Clear Objective

A club’s objective is like its guiding star. It’s the thing which all other decisions are based on. Without it, how do you know what you’re doing is working? So by choosing not to have one - or by keeping it hidden - members won’t understand what the club is for and will stop attending.

2: Don’t Have Anyone To Plan Or Guide The Meeting

The next way to ruin an LC is for everyone to just turn up and do whatever they fancy, essentially giving control to those who can talk the loudest. If no one knows what’s happening, no one can prepare and the quieter members will quickly get squeezed out and stop coming - fantastic.

3: Don’t Ask For Members To Specify Their Personal Learning Goals

Let people to turn up and discuss anything that takes their fancy and in most general terms possible. This way there’ll be no clear measure of their objectives or their progress. Neither will there be any celebrating when they achieve a goal and no motivation to try for the next. It’s a great way to undermine morale.

4: Don’t Hold Anyone Accountable For Their Progress

After someone has stated their Personal Learning Objective, forget it. Pay no more interest to whether they achieve it or not. Don’t ask. Don’t encourage them if you see them struggling. Don’t put any pressure on them if you see them failing to keep their word. This will help reduce the chances that they will make the effort to improve.

5: Keep Things Sporadic And Unpredictable

If you keep changing the date, time, venue of the meetings, people will find it difficult to plan ahead. Furthermore, by not consistently following up on previous pledges members will feel their efforts aren’t being taken seriously. Again , that should lower morale even further and increase the chance of them never coming back.


6: Be A Dominating, Authoritarian Control Freak

Under no circumstances allow members to choose in what way they want to learn. Lay down the law. In fact, don’t let them have a say in anything. Boss them about. Control them as much as you can until they tell you to go stuff yourself. A sure-fire way to make members frustrated and drop out.


7: Criticise, Ridicule and Humiliate

Instead of giving moral support and empathy to members who are trying their best but not quite making it yet, just laugh at them and make them feel bad. Point out how everyone else manages it. Find fault with the slightest thing you don’t like the look of. Show complete disdain and loudly state that they’re wasting their time on such a pathetic endeavour. That will hopefully guarantee that not only will they never return, but word will quickly spread that your Learning Club sucks. Perfect!

If it’s not already obvious, I’m being sarcastic. I don’t want your club to fail. I very much want it to succeed. Yet although I hope this is clear, I’ve personally witnessed it, (and been on the receiving end, as well) on far too many occasions.


So whether yours is a Learning Club or not, go through the list again and double check that no one is trying to ruin it for you.

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