Learning For Sale

by Augusto Cuginotti

by suttonhoo

The most valuable things don’t have a place to hang a price tag.

Learning is not only about…

Educational institutions work in a very simple way: a customer pays (or is paid by someone else) and gets the ‘education pack’ of choice. Quality is guaranteed (?) by tests, exams and thesis writing. Customer receives the product at the end, usually a certification that she has learned as a recognition she now has a capacity it wasn’t there before purchase.

Institutionalized learning like this is taking over the world. Learning in institutions seem to be the primary and usually only place where a person would look for learning experiences nowadays.

I had experiences for many years asking questions about meaningful learning moments that most people claim these moments happen outside institutions or, at least, outside institutional time. Think about it for a while – is it the case for you too?

Even if that might be the case for many of us, how much do we intentionally put an effort to create or simply be on those non-institutionalised learning spaces?

Learning is not only about schools and universities

How can I guarantee learning if there’s no strong institution or guru behind it?

Eventually even learning outside schools and universities received the same operational status of its institutionalised counterpart: customer buys package and receive ‘learning-pack’, handouts and certification. Spaces where this is different are, unfortunately, rare.

A good example of an intentional learning spaces are conferences. A conference is a space like the institutionalised learning style – keynote, folder and certificate. There have been some alternatives – one is, name explains, an un-conference.

Unconferences do not have pre-made or decided activities before you arrive. The space usually runs organised around principles of Open Space and everyone takes responsibility for what will happen. No keynote. No folder. No certificate.

How can I guarantee learning in such a place? — one can ask. I’d say: how can you guarantee learning in any place? Perhaps we can start by committing to be open for learning, which usually requires a simple act of paying attention.

Learning is not only about methods and principles

Intentional co-created learning spaces don’t need to follow methods and principles. They can be invitations to tend the garden, to dance in the park or to a conversation in your favourite pub. The importance is in co-creating with others around themes that overlap in meaning with people who are there.

For some of the learning moments that can intentionally happen in our lives, my experience is that the ones where I was co-responsible for creating it was the most profound ones. If you experience some of those spaces, you might find regular conferences quite hard to attend. Try.

The most interesting things you’ll learn aren’t for sale and, even if someone could teach you, it’d internalise only when you co-re-create what it all means with others.

Learning is all about you and the ones you co-create with.