I have long loved the famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” What is it I want to change? The list is long and contains many noble pursuits, but the one I most lament is that here in the US we are not a culture of learners. From our struggles with revamping our national education system as we fall further and further behind other nations academically, to the reductions I see in corporate training budgets, to the meager amounts of time adult students now are willing or able to spend in training, the lack of value we place on learning is staggering. I bemoan it. I lament it. I criticize and rail against it as I try to sell and promote training tools and services. But, ultimately, I’ve come to realize, I embody it too.
This realization brought me to a standstill recently. When was the last time I carved out space in my schedule to attend a class or shut off Outlook and my phone for a few hours to do some self-paced learning online? How many webinars did I register for in 2013 and then fail to attend because something “more important” came up? I asked myself, “What is more important than my knowledge? What is more important than a smarter, wiser, more efficient version of me in the world?”
The answer should be nothing.
In 2014 I will begin to change our attitudes towards learning by changing myself. I will attend those webinars for which I register. I will take a class to learn a new skill or software program instead of muscling through on my own. I will block out time on my schedule to go through independent learning and to practice my fledgling skills. More than this, I will let others know I am doing these things and why in the hopes of demonstrating the value and the importance I place on learning. Because I do. Because we all should.
Pamela Conway has over 20 years of experience in the technical education field. A graduate of Purdue University, Pamela joined CompuWorks in 1991 as a technical writer and software trainer. After many years providing traditional classroom training and curriculum development, in 2000 she became part of CompuWorks’ management team concentrating on implementing new training modalities and planning training/support projects for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebooks, and LinkedIn.