This week is Adult Learners’ Week. This is a long-running campaign that encourages adults in all spheres of life to focus on their learning and the benefits they can get from it.
The joy of learning
The Adult Learners’ Week website is full of stories of adults whose lives have been transformed by learning and without a doubt, learning is one the greatest powers for personal and social transformation.
Learning changes your outlook and your potential. It is available to everyone, and anyone can do it. Its benefits range from the pure joy of knowing something new or understanding what was previously hidden, to enjoying a longer, more fulfilling life.
We can learn alone, browsing through books, journal or websites, or together with friends and colleagues. We can learn fundamental skills or advanced concepts; and we can learn manual expertise, aesthetic sensitivity or abstract concepts. So far there is no evidence that even hints at a limit on our capacity for learning.
A wonderful snippet of knowledge
I am indebted to Dr Peter Honey – a man who exemplifies life-long learning and whose blog is well worth reading – for a wonderful snippet of knowledge that he slipped into a column for Training Journal several years ago.
Have you ever wondered about ‘the three Rs’? Why does one start with ‘W’ and why are two both about literacy? What about other areas of knowledge. Well, Peter pointed out that the origins of the phrase are far more generous in their spread of knowledge, though no more literal in their interpretation of ‘R’.
Peter’s article tracks the phrase back to an origin that recognises the value of vocational as well as other learning; a triangle of:
Reading and writing
Reckoning and arithmetic
Wrighting and wroughting
How far we’ve come.
Now, not only do we not teach wrighting and wroughting, but my spell checker does not even acknowledge their existence. Yet the power of vocational skills to transform lives is as great as ever. Three examples strike me from my own friends, in anonymised form:
- Ben has never thrived at school. By taking a vocational pathway at Key Stage 4, however, he is able to combine an NVQ in Construction at a local college for one day a week with English, Maths and core Science. A feeling that he can now do something he is good at, the prospect of a job, and seeing how the concepts make sense in the real world are spurring Ben to make headway with Maths and Science for the first time.
- Suzy was academic at school, did well at university and got a series of high-paying and demanding jobs. For her, however, work was a source of excitement only in the early days of each new job. What keeps her enthusiastic about life is learning new skills at weekends, in evening classes and in holidays. She focuses on craft activities and rarely has to buy Christmas presents – she makes them all herself.
- Rob had a highly successful teaching career, rising to Head of Department at a well-regarded secondary school and inspiring his pupils to achieve great grades. Then, one day, he realised that his next step would not be another teaching post. Turning to one of his great passions in life, Rob took a huge risk and applied for a lease on a blacksmith’s forge. Now he spends his days wrighting gates and wroughting the steel they are made from.
So here’s the deal
- Make a commitment to yourself to learn something new this week.
- Take a look at Jenny’s great blog, Learning to Learn, on the Teachers’ Pocketbook blog
Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy 1: Predictable
As a learner, or a trainer, or a teacher, here are some pocketbooks you might like:
(Thank you to our sister blog,
The Teachers’ Pocketbooks Blog)
Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy 2: Random
Hey! Learning is not just about a programme, it’s also about serendipity. Follow these links to random Pocketbooks and look up the words you don’t know. How many can you drop into conversation this week?
Thank you to Ros and Regina who each tipped me off to Adult Learners’ Week