Friday, October 24, 2008

Legal tender

I was just in a shop where a woman wanted to pay for her fuel with a £50 note, and I learned something new. Apparently not all shops will accept £50 notes. Now this struck me as kind of odd. After all, they're legal tender and they carry the same promisory information on them as any other note issued by the Bank of England.
I have heard many tales of people being forced to walk because bus drivers won't change a £10. Now the legal tender issue crops up here again, but I can begrudgingly accept that a bus driver is (a) restricted as to the amount of cash he carries and (b) pressed for time.

But I really struggle with the idea that a shop can refuse to take legal tender. Surely that is breach of the law? Being me, although the situation had nothing to do with me, I asked this question of the cashier.

"It's because there's so much forgery," she explained. I looked at the poor woman who was trying to pay for her fuel. Of course, it's not impossible, but it seemed unlikely that she was a forger. If the note was indeed a forgery, it was more likely that someone had given it to her. Sticking my oar in even further, I asked, "And this is her problem?" The customer explained that her husband was increasingly being paid with £50 notes these days.

I don't know what kind of business he's in that sees him being given cash payments - perhaps he's a self-employed plumber or electrician. But of course the knock-on effect is likely to be that he will start refusing to take £50 notes if he and his family are unable to spend them anywhere.

I very seldom carry much cash - perferring to use a debit card, so I have only once possessed a £50 note and I used it within minutes to pay for my groceries. On that occasion, there was no fuss about the note (perhaps I have an honest face).

But I can't help wondering what the point is of a £50 note if you can't use it. And what are the implications of a business refusing to accept what constitutes legal tender?

And then, inevitably, my allegorical, analogous brain starting thinking about parallel situations in the world of learning.

Are there situations where we are providing our learners with information that has no practical value? Information that looks as if it will grant them access to all sorts of new delights and skills but, in fact, when they come to apply it, proves useless?

What's the point of that?

Just wondering....

Image credit: Talduras via photobucket

2 comments:

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

"Are there situations where we are providing our learners with information that has no practical value? Information that looks as if it will grant them access to all sorts of new delights and skills but, in fact, when they come to apply it, proves useless?"

'Twas ever thus Karyn. Kia ora!

There will always be lots of that for the simple reason that nothing ever stays the same. Does it?

Thing is, learning to learn is useful. And many things, for as redundant as their routines may seem, are recursively elaborate.

So nothing is really lost, just some things only seem to be out of date in some parts but other parts might be useful. I think it's called education :-) .

Quick example: I learnt to use log tables when I was at secy sch. Just over ten years later I was teaching kids to use them. Then log tables weren't used anymore and we had to learn to use calculators. Kids weren't taught about log tables.

Y'know, what I learnt using log tables was precious. It taught me so many things that I am now aware of.

F'rinstance, I was shown a graph by a financial advisor recently who really didn't know why the scale on the vertical axis went up in equal distances from 100 to 1000 to 10000. He clearly didn't know anything about log scales. So I was able to explain it to him!

I thought, "gotcha!"

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Karyn Romeis said...

@blogger You make a fair point in respect of academic learning. However, in the field of corporate learning, that point holds less water.

Cosidering that the entire point of corporate learning is to enable people to do their jobs better and more confidently, there seems to me little point in taking them out of the day job only to teach them stuff that has nothing to do with said day job.

Hmm. This is grist to the mill for a paper I need to write on corporate v academic learning.