Two sides of the coin!

John stepped through the door of his class. It was the same mundane place just another new year with a brand new set of faces to remember. John wasn’t as he used to be because it was always the same crop of people. The studious ones would be sitting right in front devouring every word he said, possibly not understanding but definitely memorizing it verbatim. The back benchers would be busy texting or playing games. Different people but the same outcome each year. It had become routine for him hence he was tired. The truth was he had stopped learning himself years ago as everything was there in his head.

As the norm he walked next to his table and cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention and as every year before that he did it louder a second time so that the few who were oblivious to his presence also turned their heads to face him. John introduced himself to the class and walked them through the introduction to his class on Business Management. He guided them through their curriculum and the different stages at which they will learn what. Then he ended it with his staple dialogue to hit them hard “We are here to learn and educate ourselves for a brighter future for each and every one of you. So I expect dedication and respect from everyone in this class for me as well as each other. Anyone who is here to just make up the grades for their degree is free to leave and they will get a passing grade from me” No one ever got up, it was a tried and tested statement. He slowly turned around to pull the projector down to start with his class when he heard a rustling sound behind.

He turned to tell them to not make noise when he saw a well-dressed boy with shabby long hair till his eyes, which had a round frame glasses on it and big headphones around his neck getting up in the first row. Firstly John was confused because the boy was giving mixed signals, his hair and headphones said back bencher but his attire and glasses said studious. John asked him is everything Ok? To which he replied surprisingly “yeah, I am just leaving because you said we could”. ”I’ll give you my name and details please give me a passing grade.”

15 years of teaching nobody had said that and John was taken aback, could he even do that, was the first thought that he crossed his mind. Also why would a guy in the front seat do that, at best he expected that person to come from at least the middle seats. So he decided to find out and asked the boy why he chose to leave. To which the boy replied, “My research shows that only 10% of the education we get is garnered through the planned learning such as schools, webinars, online assessments etc. The remaining 90% is gotten through informal learning”. John was intrigued so he asked the boy to come up and let everyone know what informal learning was.

“Informal learning can be divided into 3 categories which are Social Learning, On Demand Learning and Career learning.” He wrote the same on the blackboard. John was really starting to get interested in what the boy was speaking and for once things were different. The boy continued speaking “ Social learning is any form of learning you pick up from the network around you be it through social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, online communities, blogs, or games and simulations.” Whereas On-demand learning is more specific to your current needs. For example you need to know how to dis-assemble a laptop. You go to YouTube and search for videos that teach you how. Likewise there can be e-books, podcasts or learning apps that do the same.”
“The last type known as career learning is what you learn on the job through projects , coaching classes, feedback and any form of assignments given on the job.”

“What I have mentioned are the forms of learning that constitute 90% of our education and unless Professor John can prove to me I am wrong then it makes no sense in me spending time here learning 10% of what I need instead of doing something productive.”

John got up smiling and beaming clapping thunderously but slowly. He finally spoke and said “Well done young man. It was a great presentation and the absolute truth is he is 100% right. At the same time let me tell you a story. If you are building a house you first lay the foundation for the house. This takes time and is laborious and involves a lot of waiting so that the cement sets properly. Now most of the foundation can never be seen and is only about 10% of the houses structure. No one will come in and applaud your foundation when they admire the house. Yet the house cannot be built without the foundation and the stronger the foundation the sturdier the house. You may learn a lot more outside this class but what you learn here will allow you learn more and faster when you are outside. Nonetheless if you still feel otherwise then you are free to go.”

The boy looked at John with a bemused smile and said “Maybe, I’ll sit around here for a while.”

PGC is a boutique Management Consulting firm engaged in the business of enabling its clients to transform their Org, Culture & Capabilities.