Thanks to the rapidly changing technology, everything around is changing. And so the need to reskill/upskill is at all time high. Everybody in the work force, across all levels has to reskill.
But the challenge of learning something new is that you tend to forget what you have learnt if you don’t get to practice/use it.
So is there something that can be done?
Such that the knowledge loss is reduced during the time period between the moment you learn something and till the time you get to use it practically.
I want to present a solution in this regards in this post.
We cannot replace the hands-on experience or practice, and so you could say the solution I present in this post is partial.
The seeds of the solution were sowed during one of my interactions with the TPO Mr. Harshit Desai of MIT-Design school, Pune.
He has been a great support and mentor to me. During the interaction, I had asked him “Design is a very creative thing, how can you teach it to somebody?”.
His answer was that though creativity cannot be taught, we can teach certain concepts such that the mind is trained, triggered to think from a certain perspective.
The answer made a lot of sense, and so I kept thinking about it and the other aspects of learning and the result is this post.
Lets start our journey be defining the end goal of any learning.
The end goal of learning is to gain expertise.
What is Expertise
When we say I know “something”, I am learning “something” what we mean to say is that we are building/working on the following 3 things about the “something”
- Know-how of tools and techniques
These 3 aspects are the crux of every learning exercise, every teaching exercise or in short of Expertise. We will discuss each of them to build our solution.
To learn “something” which is new to us, we have to develop the perspective about that “something”.
When we say building a perspective, what we mean is that we focus on
E.g If I am learning AI, I should understand – what is AI, why AI is so hot in the market, why is it used, why AI is it hot now? Why organizations are interested in using AI and so on.
Or say you are learning Music (even just for fun), understanding the fundamentals of Music theory helps in learning tunes and playing them. Isn’t it?
Basically, in this phase, we are focussing on the fundamentals and thus we are laying the foundation of our learning. We are understanding the needs and benefits of our investment in learning.
In simple words, gaining perspective is like learning English Alphabets. Once we know the Alphabets, the next step would be to learn grammar and then we can use English language knowledge to write blogs, poetry, fiction, non-fiction or work emails or simply use it to communicate. The choice is yours.
Know-how tools of tools and techniques
With the foundation set, we jump into the next step which involves learning the actual tools and techniques.
In this phase, the focus in on
If we relate this phase to the analogy of learning English language, this phase is all about learning English grammar.
It is very easy to measure what we learn in this phase and so very easy to show it and talk about it. Hence, we tend to focus more on this “How” part compared to the “what” and “why”.
And this biased focus on “How” is the reason why we tend to forget what we have learnt if there is no opportunity to use it.
Focussing only on “How” part is like constructing a building without a foundation (which is the perspective part). Without the perspective set, we have to use brute force to learn tools and techniques. And the brute force is memorization. There are no new or very few new connections made in our brain.
Whereas, if the perspective is set, we are using our intelligence to understand the tools and techniques. And our memory is simply helping in this intelligence driven learning exercise. That is, we are building new connections in our brain and the new connections tend to remain as it is longer.
The third part in the journey of learning is the “Experience”.
Experience is gained over time. Experience helps us understand the contextual aspects like
Comparing to our analogy of learning English language, Experience is learning what it takes to write good blogs, good poetry, good email and so on.
It is all about enhancing the perspective by learning from experience such that you are able to
- Put your knowledge of tools and techniques to the best use and for best outcome.
- Guide juniors to get work done
During our academics, our trainings, to add a dash of experience to our learning journey, we work on live projects, capstone projects or do internship and so on.
The solution to remember what you have learnt
When we say we have forgot what we have learnt, we are saying that we have forget the know-how of tools and techniques.
And this happens because we did not get the opportunity to build experience.
Hence our solution has to be based on the only aspect we are left with i.e Perspective.
Typically, we are measured and ranked on the knowledge of tools and techniques and this forced the perspective to take a back seat.
By spending time to build perspective,
- We understand the fundamentals
- Build new connections in our brain
Now, lets say we get an opportunity to use what we have learnt after 2 years. We still have got something in our minds to start with. It is not as if you are completely lost. That’s better than starting from scratch isnt it. We have got some ROI on our past investment in learning.
Hope this post helps you in your reskilling and upskilling journey. Do let us know what you think of this solution. Happy to discuss ideas and solutions for effective reskilling…