Culture of Continuous Learning

I had a conversation with my team mate about the recent buzz word in the market upgrading yourself. The buzz word used by most of the bosses to warn the young generation mostly in connection with recession and pink slip.

Both of us were of the opinion that continuous learning (or so called upgrading) is part of culture you have grown up with. I am not just talking about the work related learning here. I am talking about learning in general.As kids we used to be very curious about the things surrounding us. We always wanted to know more about radio or pictures in TV. The motivation for learning new things was fun or simple curiosity. As we grew up the motivations changed. It was degree in college, job change or promotion when we started working. But the problem was the motivations like job, salary or promotion are not sustainable. Once you get the promotion you are free till the next season.

Simple curiosity or fun of tinkering with the stuff around never dies. Think of kid lost in toy shop. It just goes behind one after the other. Kid never loses interest because its having fun. When was the last time you learnt something new just for fun?

Ourselves to blame?
Mostly yes. Last year I started learning Spanish. My Spanish class mostly had university students, few working professionals. In the second class my Spanish teacher asked me “Are you going to get a promotion after you finish diploma?”. To her I said “yes” but in reality I just wanted to learn another language (one of my dream is to follow the path of Che in South America. Now you know the motivation…its Che). The point I wanted to make is we are mostly behind money than other things. I want to ask you again When was the last time you learnt something new just for fun?

Is it Indian education system to blame?
May be. Most of the parents have a very simple advice for their kids. If you don’t learn this you wont get good marks. If you don’t get good marks you won’t get a good job. That is where we set a wrong motivation to learn something new. Its not just parents, its teachers, professors, bosses and society. We all motivate people around us learn for money.

How about our work place/culture?
May be that too. We will wait till the recession to learn or to innovate. Its not just about the people I am talking here. I am talking about the organizations too. Organizations should also understand person who is not interested in how telephone works probably wont be interested in how internet works. So be careful when hiring the candidates. Motivation for learning is as important as learnability.

So how do we inculcate the culture of learning?
I really don’t know. I am looking forward for tips from you, my readers. All I can say is if you still have kids curiosity, You don’t have to learn anything special to beat the recession.

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18 Responses

  1. Veetrag says:

    great post Thej.

    I have the similar dream, and I believe the day learning stops for me there is nothing left for me to do. I just enjoy finding out new things that I can’t stop without getting daily dose of information.

  2. Veetrag says:

    Forgot to add part about the education system in India. I have a dream of starting a school, here is the idea – http://veetrag.net/2007/05/22/school-of-thought/

  3. Thejesh GN says:

    @Veetrag : That is an awesome article on Indian education system. If you start your dream school..I will send my kid :)

  4. Girish says:

    Starting to appreciate simple things may increase curiosity which further enhances learning..

  5. Girish says:

    But.. appreciate this nice post :) Your bucket list inspires me to pen down my wish list .. thanks :)

  6. Good post, relevant thinking indeed.

    I think man’s thoughts are now centred around television. Rarely do I come across people who read books… I think Indians suck when it comes to pursuing a passion/dream of our own. WE are guided by the norms of society than the aspirations of self.

  7. Som says:

    Nice post. I wouldn’t blame the education system but rather the population. I feel, the enormous population has brought with it, the sense to succeed amidst tough competition. This brought in the ‘learning for reward’ or in many cases ‘learning for survival’ attitude rather than ‘learning for the joy of it’. Unlike many countries where a person who studies history or for that matter just manages to complete his high school can manage to make a decent living, here in this country, a person can manage a decent living only if he/she manages to complete a engineering/business/medicine degree. Men and women in India become machines who are tuned to fight tough competitions by learning to master things which they don’t even like. This compulsion to study courses that we might not even like but for the survival, erodes interest and the curiosity to learn more. Of course, there are exceptions.

  8. In India there is a lot of emphasis on safety and avoiding risks. Parents force kids to read, to get good marks/school/job … I feel that this might be true of a part of the urban populace. The risk appetite has to change …

    My gripe with our educational system is the rural education part. I wish that safety first attitude was considered there. Rather than read history, geography, etc. for a decade there should be greater emphasis on vocational education :-(.

  9. Lavanya says:

    Education in India is treated a a prerequisite to get a job.. they dont teach us how to learn.

    I like u’r wish list.. Makes me jot down mine too :)

  10. Thejesh GN says:

    @Girish : Sure.
    @CS Sharada Prasad : That is because we think about what others think about us than what we think about ourselves.
    @Som : I agree population is a big factor.
    @Rajesh Balakrishnan : I guess its not just in education. Even in our life we like to hide behind *safety*
    @Lavanya : Why not…

  11. Harsha says:

    If you don’t learn this you wont get good marks. If you don’t get good marks you won’t get a good job

    I don’t see wrong motivation here. In India, getting a good job and earning decent money is essential for survival. Most people, here, work to support their families financially. Learning for fun is good but learning for money is need.

    Abhinav Bindra, for ex, could able to pursue his dreams by choosing shooting as his career. He chose it because he had that option as he is born-rich. Many talented people won’t be exposed because they have to compromise for a job to earn money for their family. They learn for money not for fun.

  12. Excellent thoughts Thej! I agree that most of the parents/teachers set a wrong motivation., linking life with marks. But….there are also parents/teachers who really identify the inner talent of their kids, but are unable to support them financially. I’ve been into Chess field and know hundreds of talented kids quitting due to lack of financial support. Here is one such Chess wizard (http://tinyurl.com/qvmt6e), who started Chess @ the age of 5, won Under-8 World Chess Championship, but quit Chess last year. With a couple of friends, I tried to meet some of his expenses, but that din’t help him for long:( He needs few lakhs every year, while we could contribute only few thousands…Chief Minister poses while giving awards, never looks back for sponsorship. Sports body asks for commission in prize money., Coach wants to make money using the kid’s name..poor father is a small LIC agent.,wanting to see his talented son as a Grand Master..huhhhh…One such genius can bring India a lot of glory (already he had his share) rather than hundreds of UNWORTHY,so called working professionals…It really hurts:(

  13. Hariharan says:

    For many,after school they dont know what to do and they take up the default(may be Engg or science).After sometime when they realize what they want to do or when they realize what field keeps their learning fun, they dont werent able to do that for many reasons.Few cases could be due to commitment.

    Its more about commitment everyone has to their family and society.To meet commitments at correct time, you need money, which comes thorugh a safe job.
    On the other angle, family memebers should also be able to sacrifise a bit of it to make others int he family do what they want.

  14. Suma says:

    Hi Thej,

    Check out the Agastya Foundation – I had a chance to hear the founder speak recently and its about arousing curiosity in kids via sci labs and mobile labs in rural areas etc… Ramji Raghavan has had quite a fascinating journey with Agastya!

    Rgds,
    Suma

  15. Thejesh GN says:

    @Suma : Are you talking about this ?

  16. ManojVasanth says:

    Careers are demeaning twentieth century inventions, more a liability than an asset.— Christopher McCandless

    When a guy who did Hotel Management course doing coding sitting next to MS graduate in Computers from well knowm university of US of America, We need to think, do we really need a education system in the world?.

    Now the Education means, the matter of prestige.Parents are proud to say they have payed 50K for their kid’s admission for Kindergarten. Schools stopped teaching humanity so we live in a country where people hardly respects others emotions or at least a respect towards their own country.

    Solution? 1. Parents should stop betting their status on their kids
    2. Let kids to enjoy every small moments of their life. That would remain forever with them.

    3. Let them take their own decisions.If they fail, they will learn from it and no one can buy that experience for them from any shop.

    4. Hope parents teach them respect to others and their own country.

    5 Most Importantly, career/money does not make man good.Only the values of life

  17. Sanjay M says:

    Agastya is a pretty interesting site, will be looking more into them thanks for the valuable link!

    http://www.sikshana.org is another attempt in trying to boost education system in rural areas – public schools.

    The original post reminds me of an excellent book Surely You Are Joking, Mr. Feynman? and particularly one of the chapters in it where he is playing with plates in the cafeteria.

  1. June 14, 2011

    […] are the best and my grand parents thought British Govt jobs were the finest. It could also be our education system which is just Job Oriented Training. I think thats how we are conditioned and unless we break the fish bowl we wont come to know world […]

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