As I have read these early blog posts from Books@Work, the notion of lifelong learning comes to mind. It’s a phrase that is used in so many different ways that it has lost any genuine shared meaning for those interested in learning outcomes for adults of all ages. This is particularly true for learning in the workplace, which sometimes uses lofty language about learning, but often is targeted at imparting skills that will contribute directly to the bottom line. Felix, in an earlier blog post, suggested that Books@Work has hit on an approach that serves the individual’s needs and desires for personal growth and learning AND the needs of the workplace for engaged and competent employees.
Knud Illeris, a leading European educator, has suggested that it is necessary to address both sides of this equation in order to achieve genuine learning in the workplace. He says that we need an approach to workplace learning that “relates to the learner as a human being in general, as a member of the present globalized market and risk society, and as a specific individual with a personal life history, situation and future perspective.” Workplace learning needs to advance an individual’s knowledge, but also must satisfy the emotional needs of the learner and the desire to interact with others in meaningful ways. And Books@Work fills that bill entirely.
I am optimistic that Books@Work can provide a new foundation for thinking about learning for people throughout the workplace. If we begin to respect employees as true lifelong learners, companies and educators can work with employees to create innovative approaches to workplace learning focused on critical thinking and personal development. This will truly be the win-win that Peter Drucker referred to when he said that often the true bottom line is “changed lives.”
Illeris, K. (2003). Workplace learning and learning theory. Journal of Workplace Learning, 167-178.
Image: Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), Le Livre des Comptes, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.