Jay Cross has written a screed that resonates strongly with me. In it, he makes the case for investing in improving learner’s learning and/or thinking abilities, not just their task-related skill-sets.
We’ve argued this before, as part of our meta-learning interest, but it remains cogent (and all too ignored). The point being, and particularly for knowledge workers, that skills about self-learning, about reflecting and problem-solving, are the key in moving forward. Tony O’Driscoll’s pointed out how as you gain more expertise the value of received wisdom diminishes and you’re in a state of continual knowledge development and negotiation of shared understanding.
Well, what if you don’t know how to reflect well? Or to capture the understandings you’ve developed, or how to communicate, or how to negotiate understanding? If you don’t have the necessary skills, your effectiveness is hampered, yet no one’s talking about investing in the effectiveness of the background skills. And if you think that you can just hire people with these skills, or trust them to develop on their own, the evidence is that you’re sadly mistaken.
I’ve been working on how we might use technology to develop these skills as a layer on top of our learning systems, but I think a necessary additional step is explicit acknowledgement of the need, and more concerted efforts on developing these skills. So what are we waiting for?