Focus on learning, not education

learning not educationFor better meetings, we need to focus on learning, not education.

Yes, sometimes, cultural or professional “requirements” mean we have to provide education. That’s so we can “certify” that we’ve educated attendees to some prescribed standard. But is that all our meetings should be about?

Learning, not education

After all, it’s what we actually learn that’s important, rather than the “education” we receive. As Seth Godin says:

“Education is a model based on scarcity, compliance and accreditation. It trades time, attention and money for a piece of paper that promises value.

But we learn in ways that have little to do with how mass education is structured.

If you know how to walk, write, read, type, have a conversation, perform surgery or cook an egg, it’s probably because you practiced and explored and experienced, not because it was on a test.

We’re in danger of repeating the failed approaches of education in an online setting…”
Seth Godin, The revolution in online learning

Seth is talking about the potential failure of online education, but his point that we need to practice, explore, and experience to learn is true for any kind of meeting. Albert Einstein and Oscar Wilde pointed this out a hundred years ago:

“The value of an education … is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”
Albert Einstein, 1921, during his first visit to the United States

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
Oscar Wilde, 1909, Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young

Social learning

If we want people to learn at our meetings, we need to concentrate on creating the best environment for learning: social learning, humans’ superpower.

Learning, not education. You’ve heard it from Einstein, Wilde, and Godin. For what it’s worth, I agree.

I hope you do too. Check out the many blog posts I’ve written about learning or any of my books to learn more about how to make your meetings places of learning, not education.

Image attributions: Oscar Wilde image by Napoleon Sarony – Library of Congress, Public Domain, Albert Einstein image By Ferdinand Schmutzer, Public Domain