Learn faster with a good support structure

Use scaffolding to learn more by working with others

This may sound like a familiar childhood memory:

You’re learning how to ride a bike.

You’re scared of falling over because you can’t keep your balance yet.

Your parents put training wheels on the bike.

This helps you focus on pedaling and steering.

Once you’re comfortable, they take the training wheels off.

But it’s still scary because you don’t want to crash and hurt yourself.

So your parents run alongside you while you pedal.

They hold and support you when needed.

Every few seconds, they let go and you’re on your own.

When you start to get off-balance, they hold you again.

Soon, you get enough experience and confidence to do it yourself.

Your parents let go one last time.

And you never look back.


In the 1920s, Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky studied how to help people learn better.

He noticed that we get frustrated when things are too difficult to do.

His solution?

Work with someone who knows more and can help with the basics.

This concept later became known as scaffolding.

And it’s everywhere in our lives.

The invisible force

Back to learning how to ride a bike.

What if you didn’t have training wheels?

What if you didn’t have someone hold you?

What if you only had a bike and nobody to teach you how to ride it?

Could you learn how to ride?


But it would take too much time and energy.

You would be more likely to give up.

There are many invisible forces to help us learn.

Many show up for a few moments and disappear.

But they’re critical to success.

A building under construction often needs scaffolding.

The scaffolding eventually goes away.

But it played an important role.

How to learn faster

You can learn more and learn faster with scaffolding.

The good news?

You’re probably already doing it.

Help yourself

Often times in our jobs, we’re expected to learn something new.

Yet, we get little guidance on how to do it.

Need to learn to how do a VLOOKUP in Excel?

You may watch a how-to video on YouTube.

There’s a reason why how-to videos are one of the most popular YouTube categories.

They’re all about scaffolding.

We like learning from others who already know what we want to learn.

Help others

At work, your company can help others with some simple ideas.

Working with new hires?

Consider a job shadow program for the first few weeks.

They’ll be more likely to learn faster from those doing the job than trying to do it by themselves.

Another method is an apprenticeship program. These are effective to learn a trade while on the job.

Endless possibilities

You may think that scaffolding is common sense that we’ve been doing for a while.

You’re right, it is.

And that’s a good thing.

We should keep doing it because it works well.

Break a task into small, manageable chunks and provide a support structure.

You’ll learn faster, learn more and learn better.

It’s like riding a bike. Once you learn it, you’ll never forget.

Thanks for reading.

See you next week,