“What is success in this world? I would say it consists of four simple things — to live a lot, to love a lot, to laugh a lot, and from it all, to learn a lot.” Richard J. Needham
I’ve become very jaded. There is no question about it. Every day, there is a new book or a webinar or a study that announces, as if it were an original thought, that learning matters, that good teachers make a difference in the lives of their students or that trainers have an important role in developing leaders, managing change, and/or transforming the workplace, etc.
Why are these considered to be startling new discoveries? Their statements and conclusions seem so obvious. The importance and impact of teaching and training are validated every minute of every day.
Every work relationship- whether manager to supervisor, supervisor to employee, employee to employee, or employee to customer- requires effective interpersonal skills. If individuals are not born with these skills, we know that training can help these individuals develop and strengthen their skills.
Every profession involves technical knowledge and skills of one sort or another, be it teachers who must develop lesson plans, or lawyers who must conduct research and write briefs, or scientists who must follow specific protocols. These professionals need to learn this knowledge and skills before they are considered qualified and capable of performing their responsibilities.
Every new hire needs to gain knowledge about the organization (its structure, culture, and work rules); about his or her position (its tasks, responsibilities, goals and expectations); and about its benefits package. These new employees need to learn how they fit into the organization, what it can do for them and what they need to do for the organization.
Students attend school to learn about their world and develop the knowledge and skills that will ostensibly help them be successful in their chosen paths.
Through observation and practice, babies learn how to communicate, to feed themselves, and to walk. Young children learn their letters and numbers so that they can read and perform basic mathematical functions.
Our brains literally grow as we learn new things. All of life presents opportunities for learning on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels. We learn from our successes and, hopefully, we learn from our mistakes.
So I am literally dumbfounded when article after article in professional training web links and periodicals keeps restating the obvious. Learning matters. There is no constructive growth or change without learning. Interpersonal skills, technical skills, and life skills can be learned and, therefore, can be taught.
Unless, of course, I have missed the real point of this constant reiteration of the obvious. Perhaps the message behind the message is that it is time for the leaders of government and of organizations to finally realize that learning matters and that they should empower (and compensate) teachers and trainers to teach the knowledge and skills essential for our democracy, our culture and our ultimate survival.
May your learning be sweet.