Director Clarity Learning and Development
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Learning at Work Week 2021: The superpower available to us all

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In the days leading up to Learning at Work Week 2021, the Queen revealed plans for the UK government’s ‘lifetime skills guarantee’. While the prospect of this new formal education route is exciting, it’s important we see development opportunities in our everyday behaviours and actions. After all, that's when we can really harness the superpower that is learning.

17th May 2021
Director Clarity Learning and Development
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I’m old enough to remember a range of Government initiatives relating to adult learning and learning in the workplace. I remember hearing the term ‘lifelong learning’ when I first became involved in L&D and being massively excited at the prospect that everyone was being encouraged to continuously learn.

(For those of you who want to explore this in a bit more detail, here’s an interesting article from John Bynner featured in the Journal of the British Academy.)

I remember the advent of ‘Individual Learning Accounts’ and being excited about the idea that more people would have access to learning at a time and place to suit them. Sadly, this scheme only lasted a very short time at the turn of this century.

I want to find ways of encouraging that day-to-day learning that we are all capable of. 

Fast forward to September 2020 and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that: “at every stage of your life, this government will help you get the skills you need.”

“We’re transforming the foundations of the skills system so that everyone has the chance to train and retrain.” 

And in the week leading up to Learning at Work Week 2021, we heard the Queen announcing that what had been promised would become new legislation

Human = Learning

Whilst the Prime Minister pledges he has given us “rocket fuel”, I believe that we should all see learning as our superpower. The theme of ‘Made to Learn’ for this year’s Learning at Work Week tells us that Human = Learning and I love this concept.

I’m excited that new funding will be made available for Further and Higher Education and I hope that this funding will reach those who will be inspired and empowered by formal learning.

Sitting alongside this, I want to find ways of encouraging that day-to-day learning that we are all capable of. 

I’ve always wondered whether the word ‘learning’ has some difficult connotations for some people that leads them to shy away when the word is mentioned.

Looking at learning through a new lens

The Campaign for Learning is encouraging us during Learning at Work Week to think about learning in a range of different ways. Here are some of my musings on what we might do…

Perhaps we can start talking about our capacity to improve our lives and work through doing things differently

We could consider the question ‘what’s new?’ and ask ourselves this question in relation to what we are doing, how we are doing it and what we are thinking about it. This can help us identify our learnings without using the ‘L’ word.

We can take time to appreciate how we have got from A to B and reflect on, dare I say it, our journey! What skills did we need to develop, what knowledge did we need to acquire and how did our attitudes and behaviours impact?

Learning helps you to become a ‘future hero’, changing the future for the good of all around you.

We might be able to spend a little time each day exploring something that we didn’t even know existed. We could watch something that we would never normally click on, we could listen to a podcast that isn’t on our subscription list or we could open a book that does not really appeal to us.

With doing something different in mind, we could take a new route to work – or change our morning routine slightly if going to work is now simply moving from one side of the kitchen to the other. We could reverse the route of our daily walk and see what the world looks like from this new perspective.

Here in the UK we are now able to meet others more freely. This means that we can reconnect with our Personal Learning Network (if you don’t have one, get one!) in different ways and start to challenge each other to develop our learning powers.

Learning as a superpower

How does this all relate to my claim that we should see learning as a superpower available to all? 

  • Learning gives you x-ray vision by giving insight into yourself and others

  • Learning gives you 360-degree vision by opening your eyes to new possibilities

  • Learning reveals muscles you were never previously aware of, such as:

    • Your decision-making muscle

    • Your problem-solving muscle

    • Your reflection muscle

    • Your empathy muscle

    • Your concept-creation muscle

  • By showing you that the world can be different, learning helps you to become a ‘future hero’, changing the future for the good of all around you

  • Learning gives you courage by showing you examples of what you are capable of now and what you could be capable of tomorrow

There are more points I could list here but I’d like to hand it over to you… what has learning done for you? Why is learning so important to you? Please share!

Interested in this topic? Read 'Why the key to lifelong learning is developing curiosity.'

Replies (2)

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Headshot of Andy Blake
By andyjb
18th May 2021 10:53

Good article. I am also of an age to remember ILAs and Lifelong Learning. Learning has always been important to me in any role I have had since leaving school. As a Lifelong Learner it has made me want to help others learn and develop on their own journeys.

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Replying to andyjb:
Jackie Clifford
By Jackie Clifford
20th May 2021 13:22

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Andy. I feel exactly the same about learning and supporting others on their own learning pathways.

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