Posts Tagged ‘Education’

TED, Sir Ken, Creativity & God

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

When was the last time you checked out TED talks? I love them – they trigger thought, they entertain, they inform, and they can make you laugh. Go to www.ted.com if you’ve never seen them, and watch and listen. By the way, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.

One of my favorite TED-talks is one from Sir Ken Robinson. It is focused on education, and how it can sometimes limit creativity. It is also very entertaining, as Robinson is a fantastic speaker – he’s also very funny. Check it out at http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html.

Robinson makes a great point when he suggests that education, where it limits creativity, is doing society a great dis-service. He believes we need to adjust our thinking about what traditional education focuses on. As Robinson points out, most education is focused on the “serious” subjects like math, language, sciences and history. Instead, he believes more emphasis should be put on creative subjects such as art and music.

Sir Ken does a much better job of presenting his reasons for his recommendations than I do, so I strongly suggest you watch his TED-talk. But because I love one story he tells so much I can’t resist re-telling it here.

There was a young girl in an art class, drawing away, as did everyone in the class. The teacher moved around the room, and then stopped next to the young girl and asked, “What are you drawing?”

The young girl responded, “God.”

“Well, no one knows what God looks like,” the teacher said.

And the girl replied, “They will in a few minutes.”

I love that story!

Robinson suggests that some education sucks the creativity out of us. I think Pablo Picasso would agree with him when he said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

How does this apply to your world? Do you encourage imagination, both in yourself and others? Performance often comes as a result of imagination, creativity. Giving yourself and others an opportunity to stretch the mind is the only way to make big gains. Read The Art of Innovation, by David Kelley for creative approaches to enhancing imagination and creativity in the workplace. More and more companies, like Google, are giving employees time to work on their own projects, encouraging them to think outside the box.

Come to think of it, thinking outside the box is a common saying… but is it something that you practice? Could you draw a picture of God?

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Does Education Lead to Learning?

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

A good friend of mine makes the differentiation between education and training with a thought-provoking question: Would you like your daughter to attend a sex education or a sex training class? Points out the difference between education and training, doesn’t it?!

A good friend of mine makes the differentiation between education and training with a thought-provoking question: Would you like your daughter to attend a sex education or a sex training class? Points out the difference between education and training, doesn’t it?!

To me, learning is when there has been a change in a person’s mental programming. Education is often – but not always – the process of putting information into someone’s brain. Unfortunately, sometimes when you stuff that information in, it doesn’t stay there. How many times in your life have you studied for some type of exam, cramming your head full of information so you can regurgitate it for the exam, and then not be able to recall even 10% of it a month later?

Education, where information is simply given to the student, does not have a long-term effect on the person’s performance. If the student can’t even recall the information a month later, let alone use the information to change a behavior, then he or she truly has not learned it.

Learning is where the information has been internalized and has changed the student’s mental programming, and there is a change in behavior. Learning is programming, and programming is learning. Mental programming is when the synapses in our brain form a pattern, and we can then repeat the information, the skill, the behavior, or whatever, over and over again at the subconscious level. We know it. We do it. We act it. We perform it.

But, in the words of Harold Stolovitch, “training ain’t performance,” either (in fact, that’s the name of his excellent book, Training Ain’t Performance). Well, not necessarily. Sure, training can lead to a person performing what they were trained to do. But, how often have you sat through a training program and then not performed any differently than you did before the program? Happens all the time, doesn’t it?

If we want to change and/or improve a person’s performance – how they perform a certain activity – we need to change their mental programming. An educational program could do that. A training program could do that. But there is a good chance they won’t. Unless the education or training program does more than just provide information, theory, or knowledge, then any change in mental programming is more up to the individual than it is to anything else. In other words, if the individual doesn’t take the initiative to do something with the information, there will not be much change or improvement.

How many times have you read a book or an article and thought, “That’s good advice – I’m going to do that,” and then not changed? At least not any long-term change. Think of the millions of people who hear or read about a new weight loss diet, say they are committed to it, and are back to the same weight within 6 months. Until a person changes their mental programming of their self-image, and change their habits, it’s very unlikely there will be any long-term weight loss.

The same thing applies to performance in the workplace. Companies spend billions of dollars every year sending their employees to training programs. Unless there is some form of ongoing follow-through, such as coaching, performance improvements are typically small. The training has not resulted in a change in mental programming.

“Xerox Corporation carried out several studies on coaching. They determined that in the absence of follow-up coaching to their training classes, 87% of the skills change brought about by the program was lost. That’s 87 cents on the skills dollar. However good your skills training in the classroom, unless it’s followed up on the job, most of its effectiveness is lost without follow-up coaching.”
Business Wire, July 30, 2001

“A study featured in Public Personnel Management Journal reports that managers (31) that underwent a managerial training program showed an increased productivity of 22.4%. However, a second group was provided coaching following the training process and their productivity increased by 88%. Research does demonstrate that one-on-one executive coaching is of value.”
F. Turner, Ph.D. CEO Refresher

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What You Really Need to Learn

Monday, March 10th, 2008

What, do you suppose, is the most important thing you learned from your formal education? Was it the ability to read? Was it a specific skill that you use on a daily basis in your job today? Or was it the ability to think through problems to find a solution?

While all of these things are extremely important – no, critical – I would suggest the most important thing one learns from any type of education is simply this…

What, do you suppose, is the most important thing you learned from your formal education? Was it the ability to read? Was it a specific skill that you use on a daily basis in your job today? Or was it the ability to think through problems to find a solution?

While all of these things are extremely important – no, critical – I would suggest the most important thing one learns from any type of education is simply this: how to learn. And I believe this critical skill is becoming more and more important with every year that passes. Why?

The skills you need today in your job are not going to be the same skills you’ll need in the near future. Decades ago, when someone started a career, it was typically something they would stick with until they retired. The skills they needed in the beginning were not much different than the skills they needed as they neared retirement. That is far from the way it is today. And the skills that would equip you to do a job even a decade or so ago are not the skills one needs today.

The workplace changes so quickly these days that the skills you need today may be outdated in as little as 6 months from now.

The number one skill today’s workers need to be successful is the ability to adapt, change, and acquire new skills quickly. In other words, to learn.

In Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, he suggests that the era of the knowledge worker (the phrase that Peter Drucker coined) is changing. He says, “We must perform work that overseas knowledge workers can’t do cheaper, that computers can’t do faster, and that satisfies the aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual demands of a prosperous time.”

Imagine yourself five years from now. What will your job look like? What will you be doing? What is the most important skill you will need to perform that job? What about 10 years from now? Or beyond?

My bet is on learning how to learn – that’s the most important skill one needs for the future. Drucker said, “The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”

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