“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” ~ John Dewey
The first word I learned to spell was EXIT. My parents contend that the ubiquitous, bright red signs above doors were like a personal invitation for me to discover what was on the other side of every threshold. Early on, they had to be vigilant because if I saw those four letters, I was off. That desire to explore, discover, and learn is in us – from the very beginning. We’ve found ways to nurture this innate desire to learn and we’ve found ways to quash it. Sometimes the ways we suppress learning are perpetuated through organizational structures and systems in which we live and work, even those meant to support it. After having served in higher education for a number of years, I became perplexed about why colleges and universities struggle with organizational learning. Institutions of higher education should be models for knowledge sharing, applied learning and innovation. But, we get in the way of ourselves … a lot. The principles we seek to instill in students are not always championed outside the curriculum. How is it that tenets like seeking diverse perspectives, thinking analytically and critically, employing teamwork and approaching problems creatively, are important to teach, but often overlooked in everyday practices? I have witnessed similar struggles within healthcare, non-profits and faith-based organizations. It is not an uncommon problem. We get stuck. Sometimes we even lose sight of why we are doing the work in the first place. We get stuck because we stop learning. So, in 2012, I took my question and spent the next two years studying learning and organizational change at Northwestern University. Learning should be at the center of all we do. Our causes – and the creativity, energy and time we devote to them – deserve to be nurtured and magnified. Take an exit and join me in Learning Life.
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Georgianne, I love your site and insights. I look forward to more of your thoughts and compositions.