Why you need a learning practitioner

In most societies, the notion of the apprentice used to be strongly embedded. It is, in a sense, a potent reminder of the normality of learning. If you wanted to be a printer, you did not go on a training course, you became apprenticed to a printer. If you wished to learn to dye clothes, you spent a number of years with a dyer, and so on. The same is true in our personal lives. We watch, imitate, and learn from our parents. We are apprentice cooks, cleaners, carers, and partners, with them as our home tutors.

Interestingly, having abandoned the concept a decade or so ago, Britain has successfully reintroduced the idea of apprenticeship as a means of learning, by creating a Modern Apprenticeship scheme.

Who we learn with is one of the most powerful influences on our learning. The truth is, we all need help: we all need learning friends just as we need friends in our social life.

When we were concerned about improving the health of the British nation early in the twentieth century, we invented a network of doctors called GPs (general practitioners). Everyone had the right to be registered with a GP, free of charge. I believe the time has come for each person to have an LP or learning practitioner as a "critical friend" throughout their life. LPs could be to the mind what GPs are to our bodies.

This could be an experienced coach or a mentor. It could be a godparent or grandparent. It could be a professional friend in another organization. It could be your partner. It could be a teacher, tutor, or librarian. It could be a midwife or social worker. It could be a therapist of some kind. It could be a work colleague.

Many of you will, as well as having a doctor, have access to an independent financial adviser. In the Knowledge Age, you need access to a learning practitioner. Of course, the LP concept is a much looser one than these examples from health or financial services might suggest.

The essential characteristics of the LP include the following:

♦ They need to be focused on your needs unconditionally for the period that they are working with you.

♦ They need to have some basic understanding of how you can learn to learn more effectively.

♦ They need to be a critical friend to you, supporting you, challenging you, and giving you specific and constructive feedback.

♦ They need to be able to listen to you and draw out your plans, helping you to own these and set them in motion, as appropriate.

Given the brain's capacity for imitation, your choice of LP is obviously an extremely important one, as is your choice of who you spend most of your time with at work and in your private life. They will undoubtedly be a huge influence on you, your mind, and the way you think, feel, and believe.

It is my personal crusade for the first decade of the twenty-first century to persuade at least one national government that this is a good idea. In my view, such a scheme would transform the effectiveness of people and help them to realize more of their hidden talents. It would be comparatively inexpensive, as much of it would be undertaken on a voluntary basis or as part of an existing job.

A Have you had an LP of any kind? What is she or he like? How do they help you? What other characteristics would you suggest they should have?

The British Industrial Society went further in a report published in 2000 aimed at improving the quality of working life: "Employers should give their staff more room to enjoy their work. Instead of seeing sociability at work as the antithesis of efficiency and productivity they should see it as crucial to the bottom line. Gossip is the cement which holds organizations together."

You will know that, in terms of the science of the brain, this is only partially true. While we certainly benefit from social interaction and the informal learning that flows from it, malicious gossip can be harmful. Our brain's tendency to complete the picture means that we draw our own conclusions, often unnecessarily and stressfully thinking the worst! So, combine an organization that really keeps its employees informed about what is happening and what is being considered with one that encourages lots of informal chat and you have a winning formula. Many organizations are beginning to realize this and providing attractive physical spaces where workers want to eat and drink.

How much do you encourage or take part in informal learning in your workplace? Or, if you A work from home, what networks are you part of?

If you are in a position of responsibility, try giving your team money to have drinks or food together once a month. They will almost inevitably share work issues and come up with useful solutions that will justify such apparently irresponsible generosity.

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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