My Take On Learning

Changing the formal ways in which we learn has become a central focus in our society. From the Khan Academy, to Quest to Learn, to The Blue School (founded by Matt Goldman and his Blue Man Group partners), we are beginning to recognize that our formal education system is in bad need of reform. The first ten minutes of one of my favorite movies, Dead Poets Society, makes the point quite elegantly.

In my view, we need to get back to how we came into the world: as natural born learners. We need to institutionalize what comes naturally. Or simply get out of the way of it occurring organically. Once we’re in the school system, our natural curiosity takes a back seat to getting the right answer for the teacher. And that extends to our work when we join an organization: we focus on getting the right answer for the boss. We need to get back to an ethos of constant curiosity: Why, why, why, why, why? How do we know that’s true? Is there a better way? What is possible?

Notice the difference between those questions and these: What are the alternatives? What are my options? What do you want me to do? What is our budget on this?

Here’s my take: Learning and innovation go hand in hand, but learning comes first–without it, there is no innovation, no improvement.

From one of my Elegant Solutions talks: Let Learning Lead.