Today has been National Learning at Work Day in the UK, when people are encouraged to learn a new skill in the workplace. It doesn't have to be work related, of course, although I'm sure most employers would prefer it if it were.
Since I am self employed and no longer really have an 'at work', I sent out an email to the team of 200 or so people who constitute a mailing group for one of my clients. I encouraged people to push the boat out and learn something new.
Fairly predictably for a UK audience, I had a very poor response.
One person was thoroughly enthused and suggested that we each offer a 60 second micro-lesson online to whomever was interested. But he was a lone voice. At the other extreme, one respondent claimed that, having read my email, he now needed to learn 'how to clean puke off my keyboard'. Charming.
But the third and final response, received just minutes ago made it all worthwhile. With the permission of the respondent, I reproduce it here verbatim:
Thanks for your message. When I worked at the University of Manchester a few years ago, they made a good effort for the National Learning at Work Day. Five years ago, they organised a day of unusual activities to stretch people’s minds, at the Manchester Museum which is on the university campus – this included things like circus skills (juggling etc). I asked my boss if I could go and was surprised that I was allowed (but for only half a day) – no one else in my department of about 100 people had even asked. The bit that I attended was an indoor planetarium, offered by the School of Astronomy; this consisted of a wonderful introduction to the stars and how things look different in the southern hemisphere and in different seasons etc, and also included lots about the mythology around the constellations (e.g. how Orion the hunter met Taurus the bull). I enjoyed it a lot and it stayed in my mind.Isn't that an encouraging anecdote?
I have just completed a Certificate in Introductory Astronomy with the University of Manchester, via distance and e-learning, which I’ve been doing for the past two years. I know that that one day when my boss was good enough to let me ‘learn at work’, planted a seed for pursuing this hobby (a lifelong love of science fiction played a part too of course). Ironically, the course had very little to do with gazing at the stars – it covered the physics and maths behind ‘life, the universe and everything’. But now that I’m finished with the course and with possible clear nights ahead this summer, I have lots of star gazing ahead. So, the day worked for me anyway, five years ago today!
Oh... and I spent the day in teach mode rather than learn mode (but I reckon that counts, too), acquainting someone with the use of social media for business purposes. I have already posted a link to one outcome of the day.