As humans, we cannot, not learn. It is built in us to learn, we yearn to learn, we thrive by learning. In as much as learning is an innate human condition, what and when we should learn remains a critical thing, that which differentiates us and defines us. If we learn something and we do not use the knowledge or the immediately, we lose it. This has been proven by the forgetting curve theory by Hermann Ebbinghaus late 19th Century by experiments.
If we learn something at the inappropriate time, it is of no value to us, except that we know it. It’s like having money in the desert where you can’t buy anything from anywhere with the money you have.
What one needs to do is to strike a balance between the two, as we say, no knowledge is useless, as a known and proven fact, highly knowledgeable people are more creative than less knowledgeable counterparts.
To be able to fully answer the question of this article, we need to fully understand both what or who a learner is, and what learning is and is not. The second part of answering this question will involve looking at the one that provides learning, who are they and what do they need to be so as to facilitate learning?
A learner certainly is not one who sits and is feed information or told stuff that they may find useful now or at a later time in life.
A Learner isn’t one who doesn’t know something and now come to a knowledge guru for impartation of all earthly wisdom, passed from generation to generation in a well-defined ritual.
We are all experts, at something we may or may not know we are experts on the subject matter; however, others see us as experts in that field. It might be as minor as knowing car makes and models from the sound of a car passing by or as complete as the art of finding things that need to be found with only one clue to go with, and a very vague clue for that matter.
With the skills and knowledge, we have, comes great responsibility, to pass on our know how to be others know how. There is an art to skills transfer that each one of us needs to learn, otherwise we will pass half baked skills to others. To be an expert on something doesn’t equate to knowing to explain how its done, the skill may have become ingrained in us that we automatically do it and don’t have to think of how we are doing it. This competency level comes with challenges when we need to pass our know how to become others know how.
At a corporate level, we need to differentiate the good to know – the theories and underlying principles and all that academic stuff and the need to know, those things that will make the employee perform better. It is not that the academic stuff isn’t necessary, however with limited time with the learner, the need to know takes precedent and the learner can read for themselves the good to know. What value to performance does spending hours understanding the evolution of computers serve as opposed to actually learning how to use a computer. In this case, the learning of the evolution of computers is something the learner can read for themselves from a book or on Wikipedia and the available face time in a training session focuses on the real matter of the subject, how to improve the skills of using a computer to process documents, keep stock and all the other productive things a computer can be used for.
We need corporate learning to mature from academic learning to actual skills transfer to employees to help them perform their jobs better, become better at what the do and thus improve and impact the bottom line where it really matters.