Learning is like information; it wants to be set free

By Perry Timms - CIPD Social Media & Engagement Adviser

For how long have we shackled learning? For how long have we decided we know best about what, when and how people should, could and need to learn?  For how long have we thought that knowledge is power?

Q: We haven't always been this way.  Surely?

A: No we haven't.  We learned our way from basic, primitive civilisation to where we are now without over-bearing measures, practices or control.

We didn't seem to shackle much until we realised what status and power was.  And then throw money and commerce in the mix and it gets even more shackled.

That's why it's my pleasure on 6 November at CIPD Annual Conference in Manchester (as part of an ensemble of people & learning professionals) to ignite.  Ignite something.  In a format called Ignite.  And to leave you with a sense of something you want to think more about; read up about; learn about.  Do more about.

My Ignite talk is on the best way to use a range of platforms to get the most from your learning programmes.  Nothing ground breaking in that you might think - we talk about models; formats; programmes; blends all the time don't we?  Yes we do.  Our philosophy of modern learning almost demands that we have a reinvention agenda about every other month.  We laugh at the models we once held dear as we move onto the latest trendy tag and hashtag-descriptor.  "What you're NOT using tapestry learning - how very 2013 of you".

I'm going to present a story for you using a metaphor we can all relate to, in an attempt to get you thinking.  Thinking about how you set learning free.  How you free yourself to learn.

It's my contention that we have (under the guise of a stack of efficiencies) become obsessed with measuring everything.  To within an inch of its life.  See.

There's people much cleverer, richer and more experienced than I who would say "don't be such a naïve fool.  Of course we have to measure everything else how do know it's optimised".  To a large degree I will concede that to them but it won't knock my faith in a higher force than taxonomies, constructs and practices.

You'll see when you come to my talk that I have a theory that goes a bit beyond the artificial constructs we people have made and into the realms of something more nature-like.

My biggest premise is this: Learning finds a way out whatever channels, programmes, platforms or boxes you create to put it in.  It wants to be set free.

A little like the fable of the Dutch boy who put his finger in the dam, do we find ourselves channelling appropriately to irrigate minds or do we create barren wildernesses of knowledge and skills in our wake to create something we feel is measured, contained and controlled?

Set learning free I say. 

My Ignite will hopefully help you get a feel for why I believe that.  I hope I might even set you free - even a little bit.

As part of the CIPD Leaders in Learning Network, Perry will deliver one of the four Ignite presentations at the CIPD Annual Conference 2014 innovative Session G2 Open Space "Leaders in Learning: exploring new tools and skills in people development."

You can follow Perry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PerryTimms

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