Reflections on #lrnchat: Learning Valentines

lrnchat

This week’s #lrnchat took place on Valentine’s Day, so it seemed only appropriate that the chat’s theme was “Learning Valentines”.

I always find looking at the questions that are used to loosely guide the chat as a nice way to see the overall theme of the chat. Here are the discussion questions that were presented to the group:

Q1) What do you love about learning?
Q2) How can you foster a love of learning in others?
Q3) If Learning were a person you were writing a Valentine’s Day Card to, what would it say?
Q4) If Learning were to write a Valentine’s Day Card to you, what would it say?
Q5) What do you love about the learning your experience at work (Work in general, not necessarily your job)?
Q6) Who would you send a learning valentine to and why?
Q7) What have you learned from someone you love?

Personal Love of Learning

The chat started with the basic question: What do we love about learning?

For me the most important part of learning is the fact that it expands my life. Learning helps develop the person that I am through exposure to new things and experiences each and every day.

Learning for me is all about expanding the quality of my life. There are people that I consider friends today that I probably would not have as friends had I not learned or experienced something that helped build the connection between us. Some of the things that are most important in my life, such as my family and my profession, are things that came to me in one way or another via learning.

The greatest joys of my life have learning at their core. Being a caring dad, a good husband, and a professional in this field are three of the most important parts of my identity, and they’re all built on me learning and growing as a person. I could list hundreds of other things that fall into this category. In truth, I can’t think of anything that taps into my desire for continuous growth in life that isn’t in some way built upon learning.

And that’s what I love about learning the most.

Valentines-Day-Gift-Wallpapers2Supporting Love of Learning in Others

Of course most of the people who participate in a chat like #lrnchat have an innate love of learning. The reality is, not everyone has that. The chat’s next focus was on what we can do to help foster a love of learning with others.

This is a deep question that you could write and discuss for days and still only scratch the surface. We spend so much time talking about how we develop and deliver learning to people when in reality it’s fostering a love of learning that we should really be interested in. If people have a love of learning they’ll seek out and find what they need to grow just to satiate their hunger; we wouldn’t need to ‘deliver’ a thing.

Of course saying that is one thing; finding a way to make it happen is something else entirely.

I’ve actually never agreed with the idea of inspiring a love of learning. For many, learning is work, or at least it’s perceived as work. I think this is due to assumptions we make about what learning should look like: The classrooms we are presented with in school and the workplace in which a ‘teacher’ delivers content to a ‘student’. I doubt many people will have a love of learning if that’s the model of learning they are used to.

For me, love of learning isn’t the catalyst, it’s the result. I find that we get a love of learning by encouraging people to be curious. Curiosity inspires questions. It inspires experimentation. It inspires a sense of adventure and discovery.

Inspire curiosity, and a love of learning will naturally follow.

A Love Letter to Learning

The next two questions directly celebrated Valentine’s Day theme. The first question asked if Learning were a person you were writing a Valentine’s Day Card to, what would it say? If I were to write a card to Learning, it would read something like this:

Dear Learning,
  Thanks for helping me grow as a person every single day.
  Happy Valentine’s Day.
Love, David

From there the chat flipped the question, and asked what Learning were a person sending YOU a Valentine’s Card, what would it say? I would expect my card to read something like this:

Dear David,
I want to experience all that life has to offer together, for the rest of our lives. I’ll always be here for you, on Valentine’s Day and forever.
Love, Learning

What do We Love About Learning From Our Work?

From there the chat started to explore what we love about learning within our work? The word work was used specifically in the context of actually performing the work, not in the overarching structure of the job itself.

What I love most about learning within my work is the learning that takes place informally and socially. I know those are hot buzzwords right now, but it doesn’t make the statement any less true.

In the last year I started working in a very different organization that I have in the past. For over 15 years I worked in the financial sector and in the last year I moved to the nonprofit and healthcare sector. This was a major shift for me.

My organization gave me resources to help bridge this gap. But realistically, it wasn’t close to being enough for me to really feel like I was part of the culture nor to understood the ins and outs and challenges of the organization. And yet, that knowledge would be critical for me to be successful in my job. My ability to bridge that gap and bridge it quickly came from the emphasis that I placed on the informal and social learning approaches.

I’ve learned much, much more via the relationships that I forged within the organization, the shadowing that I’ve done with people in their actual work, and the conversations that take place during the work then I could ever learn from  a structured process that the company built for me. Seeing how people work and interacting with them while they’re working enabled me to see not only the benefits of work provided for the workers but more importantly the benefits provided for the individuals we served. This really helped me quickly understand why we do what we do and the value it provides. I can’t imagine learning this as quickly and as thoroughly as I have any other way.

Who Would You Send a Learning Valentine To?

The next question asked who you would send learning Valentine to and why. This was an interesting question as it allowed you to self-define what learning Valentine meant. Is a learning Valentine something that you would send as a thank you for some learning process, or something that you would send to someone to help them learn.? That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about #lrnchat; sometimes the questions get different answers based on how they are interpreted by the participants. Those different interpretations often expand the learning in ways that were unexpected.

So for me, a learning Valentine would be sent to someone who in some way has fostered my love of learning. Using that as the definition, there are plenty of learning valentines that I would send.

I would definitely send one to my Twitter network who without question have become one of my major sources for learning and growth. I would send one to my children through whose eyes I learn something new every single day. I would send one to my most trusted family and peers who often help me understand and explore critical decisions.

Come to think of it… I’d need a lot of cards if I were sending learning Valentines.

Learning From Love

The chat closed with a personal question: What have you learned from someone you love?

Answers in the chat varied for this question. For me though, the answer was immediate and specific. Those that I love have taught me about love, plain and simple. I don’t think there’s any way to truly learn and understand what love is without feeling it yourself. In order to understand what it means to love another person and what it means to feel loved by another person, you have to experience it. There’s really no other way to learn and understand it.

In that sense, Love is the ultimate social learning experience.

Happy Valentine’s Day #lrnchat. See you next week.

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