I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
– Eartha Kitt
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail with what was described as a very, very, very unofficial suggested reading list for my program. The books contained therein were those most frequently appearing on course syllabi. Though sleep was the most emphatically suggested way to prepare for our forthcoming studies, I’m a sucker for a good reading list.
I’ve decided to integrate some of the books into the already extensive reading list I’ve built up for myself over the last year. My list is comprised of those books that sound fantastic, but that teaching crowds out.
I plan on alternating books from the suggested reading list and the reading list of suggestions.
Friday I started Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline. I understand all the lauding the initial publication of the book received. Senge writes some things about organizational learning that are both intuitive and sadly underpracticed.
Most notable thus far has been the connection he’s drawn between practices of the standard classroom and practices within the modern board room or office. If we want employees to seek out possible problems rather than working for the praise of their employers, we need to stop stop training students to find the right answer kept in seclusion by the teacher.
I’ll have more to write as I continue deeper into Senge’s work. The passage that follow’s though, struck a chord and is worth reading for anyone whose ever learned anything:
The problem with talking about “learning organizations” is that the “learning” has lost its central meaning in contemporary usage. Most people’s eyes glaze over if you talk to them about “learning or “learning organizations.” The words tend to immediately evoke images of sitting passively in schoolrooms, listening, following directions, and pleasing the teacher by avoiding making mistakes. In effect, in everyday use, learning has come to be synonymous with “taking information in.” Yes, I learned all about that at the training yesterday.” Yet, taking in information is only distantly related to real learning. It would be nonsensical to say, “I just read a great book about bicycle riding – I’ve now learning that.”
Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning, we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning.
– Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline