Why 2+4=6 Is the Wrong Equation for Your JobArticles 31.07.2013
I recently met a wise man who remarked that we've long educated students according to the following formula: 2+4=6. Here's the rule: Two covers of a textbook plus four walls of a classroom equals six hours a day in school.
While the math adds up, the meaning does not. We all know that equation won't prepare us for the world today. For starters, a textbook alone is not enough to teach us the skills we need to succeed in this century. Consuming information is not learning. And if we are studying material, it is unlikely to exclusively reside between two covers. It might be a variety of content from around the planet on a tablet or a phone. And being confined to an isolated educational experience in one room for a defined set of hours is hardly preparation for a life of collaborative work in a globalized economy.
Educators around the world recognize the limitations of 2+4=6 and are remaking models of learning. (This includes my company, ePals.) We should ask ourselves, are we remaking our own professional learning? Or are we stuck following in two covers of a handbook plus four office walls equals eight hours on the job?
Here are three ways to avoid being old school when it comes to learning, growing and advancing in your career:
1. Don't live within the two covers: You can't approach your job like a textbook. In most (though certainly not all) management jobs, the more you perform according to a rote set of responsibilities within long-defined parameters, the less you will ultimately matter. Take a step back from the immediate inbox and tasks at hand and ask yourself, how can you make the biggest strides toward your goals? What information or resources does that course entail? Is it within a well-worn tradition or something else entirely?
2. Roam beyond the room: It's dangerous to interact within the same circle of like-minded peers and to allow that to define your world view. There's a reason they call it the bubble - which is another term for four walls. Make sure you are spending time listening to what people outside your experience have to say. Spend time with customers, clients and any smart people who have nothing to do with with your immediate circumstances but everything to do with your greater experience.
3. Embrace learning at all hours: Learning is a lifelong, full-time job if you let it happen. You can learn on the job, but you can also learn far more from your family, hardships, travel and reading late at night. Everything in life is a moment to venture beyond what you know into a discovery of what you don't. The more you stretch into that space, the more your mind expands and your cognitive abilities grow. That benefits everyone around you - including your colleagues and your boss. Intellectual curiosity will serve you well.
How do you break out of the 2+4=6 traditions of your schooling? What has been the greatest learning experience in your career?