What Is “Learning”?

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March 12, 2013

Too many organizations:

  • Talk about education without taking the steps to do it;
  • Create learning opportunities that have little chance of resulting in learning;
  • Think professionals will take charge of their own development; and
  • Invest time and money where they have almost no chance of creating a return on that investment.

I used to open my keynote talks with something like this:

I have no illusions that any of your will actually learn anything today. In one hour the very best I can hope for is that some of you might have one aha, and that maybe one or more of you might pursue that idea by looking into it more when you get back to the office. To actually learn means to change in some fundamental way, to uncover a pathway of understanding or weave some new pattern in meaning so that it becomes part of the fabric of who you are, how you think, and what you do and say. It changes your thinking and changes your behavior. Anything short of that is not learning. To learn we humans need to invest the time in thinking and doing. We need to train ourselves into the learning.

This is the linkage between teaching and learning. Organizations need to decide if what they’ve been doing has been successful for them, or not. I suspect they are leaving much on the table.