Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oh dear, the dreaded annual question!

Learning Circuits' big question for December is rapidly becoming something of a tradition. And like a certain other December tradition, it's one I dread - although for entirely different reasons.

Why do I dread having to tell you what I learned about learning during the course of the year? Because I learn so much, but I don't keep a record of it. My views and my professional progress change imperceptibly with every new post I read, with every online seminar I attend, with every in-the-flesh conference I go to, with every article I read, with every conversation I have with another learning professional, and sometimes even during conversations I have with people who have nothing to do with learning.

So let me give you an analogy. My sister-in-law is a potter. A proper one, with a studio and a wheel and a kiln and everything. When she sits at her wheel, she starts with a lump of clay and ends up with a pot. But ask her how the pot changed during the 17th minute of the process and she won't be able to tell you. By feel, she reacts to the minutiae of the clay and the wheel and and and. The difference is that, before she starts, she knows what the finished product is going to look like. At the start of each year, as I begin to throw another learning pot, I have no idea what it's going to look like at the end. In fact, I can't say I start a new pot every January!

So let me just list a few off-the-top-of-my-head things that have made blips on my radar this year:

  • Cathy Moore's post on action-based learning gave shape to some of my thinking about the point of workplace learning initiatives
  • Sort of related to this, 2008 has been, for me, a year in which two mantras have been 'workplace learning is about change' (although it's not always easy to get the commissioning client on board with this!) and 'what's it for?'
  • I have discovered that I am synaesthetic, which has had a revelatory impact on my understanding of myself and my approach to learning and teaching, and information management in general
  • There are influential people out there who hold the same view as I do about formal education... but that doesn't seem to change anything
  • An increasing number of people are standing up and being counted on the bah humbug side of the learning styles fence... but this doesn't change the almost religious ardour of those on the other side of it
  • Blogging is dangerous and freedom of speech is conditional
  • Academic learning is not the access-all-areas learning space I thought
  • Just-in-time performance support is learning... so there!
That'll do for now, I think.


Tony Karrer said...

Dreaded? That's quite unfair. :)

The upsycho said...

Well, it's a bit like being asked to read in front of the class when you know you're not very good at it. I'm not very good at answering this question - hence the dread! But give my due - I gave it a shot ;o)

Tony Karrer said...

I think your post is quite good and it achieve's the purpose. Chance to reflect on the year. Chance for us to peer into a bit of your thinking.

I'm glad you decided to get over your dread.