“To teach is to learn twice” was a mantra of a former spiritual education teacher, Dr. Helen Carry. She would reiterate time and again, the importance of exhaustive preparation before standing before a class to provide instruction. I was always grateful for that bit of wisdom and insight; it allowed me to go much deeper into my instruction and discover subtle relevancies and nuances and then tie them to present-day situations. It made for a richer learning experience for those whom I had the privilege of instructing. Or at least that’s what they said. It certainly enriched my experience both as a teacher and a learner.
Years later, I have translated and repurposed that mantra for my own leadership development work. Every chance I get, I remind my audience to become a student of their craft. It is not enough to have just cursory knowledge. Things change too fast. The quickest way to get left behind is to not keep up with the marketplace or not develop subject matter expertise about something valuable.
The traditional education system has changed in many respects. The rapid onset of technology platforms and devices has spurred an explosion in micro-learning. You can take an e-course or go for a certification in just about anything without having to be in a classroom. What’s more, the exploded use of video has somewhat reduced the need for what I believe is the most critical skill – reading. You can listen to books, attend school – K through postgraduate online. In short, there is no shortage of ways and means for one to gain needed knowledge – if they so desire. This is nearly an about-face from a system that traditionally used education as a pre-qualifier and indicator of intelligence and worthiness of opportunities.
We are beginning to see the impact of new delivery systems of education and learning. Institutions of higher learning are rethinking the necessity and relevance of scholastic aptitude tests as a means of qualifying to enter their halls. Major corporations in some industries have recanted 4-year college degrees as an entry-level requirement.
While this is taking place in primary and higher education, there has been an explosion of learning and training in another arena. Corporate learning and development departments have taken on the task of keeping company workforces trained and prepared for tomorrow. Once upon a time, internal training consisted of learning updates on new systems or software. Today, new systems are more complex and surpass the sophistication and complexity of what is taught in schools. In addition, customers also now require more training on the products and services in the marketplace.
While the modes of education and learning are changing, the need for continual learning remains critical. We must be open to taking in new information and learning how to use that information, or learn how to use existing information in new ways. We must be students of our craft, whatever it might be. Teacher, writer, painter, jewelry maker. At this point, it’s not as much about being competitive in a global economy, but staying relevant. It is the best way I know to be of real service to my family, my clients, my community and the world.
Deborah Gray-Young is the managing partner of D. Gray-Young, Inc. a sales marketing consulting and coaching firm providing strategic communications planning and training for marketers, agencies and media companies.
An ICF accredited coach, Deborah is the author of three books:
What Do They Mean When They Say…?”, Decoding Performance Evaluation Speak, YOU 3.0: A Guide to Overcoming Roadblocks for Professional Women of Color and The Young Professional’s Handbook, a primer for young people entering the professional workforce. All are available on Amazon and Kindle
Deborah is based in Chicago.
Follow her on LinkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/dgrayyoung/