For the past couple of decades academicians and industry leaders have been modelling and encouraging organisational learning. Many companies have knowledge management (KM) departments to encourage organisational learning. Asia’s Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) are identified and awarded each year. Of the 20 companies who made it to MAKE in 2011, five are Indian: Infosys (4), Larsen & Toubro (7), MindTree (8), Tata Chemicals (14), Tata Consultancy Services (15), and Wipro Technologies (19). All are big well known large companies.
Instead of relying that learning will take place as a by-product of normal work, a learning organisation actively promotes, facilitates, and rewards collective learning.
As Peter Senge wrote in his seminal book “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization,” an organization is learning when it can bring about the future it most desires. In the business community, learning is much more than just a way to create the future you want; in today’s fast-paced, highly competitive work world, it may actually give your organization the edge it needs to survive—and thereby keep fulfilling its purpose.
Family is the basic organization of society. In families too, we cannot leave learning to chance if we want the family to have a future. From a search on the Internet, it seems that the meaning of Family learning is limited to how the family can help the children to learn and how they can help the schools in neighbourhood. The elders are expected to tell the children “let me teach you something now.” Also, the topics are suggested to be limited to the syllabus taught in the schools and covered in text books.
In ever accelerating expansion of knowledge base of the society, each member of every family needs to update his and her knowledge with continuous learning. Learning cannot be limited to school going children; learning cannot stop when we still breathe. Curiosity is cute in any age. Harsha told me last week that his grandfather learnt programming with C and Java at the age of 85, five years ago, from his grandson. Such examples make me humble and speechless. So beautiful!
GSK Rao is a mechanical design engineer, retired from DRDO organisation. He is now busier than ever – editing, refining and supplementing with statistical models the PhD thesis of his son, who is doing research on dentistry. It is a great learning opportunity for GSK Rao, a joy to work with his son, and to strengthen the fine bond with his son.
There is much that we can learn from our children, nephews and nieces. “I don’t know and don’t want to know” attitude will leave us staggering in this fast moving world. More importantly, we lose a beautiful opportunity of bonding with the family members by not seeking their help and guidance where they know better. A child will relish with pride the moments she taught a few things to her elders.
Learning from each other within family is a very fulfilling experience, giving deeper meaning to the concept of family. We don’t have to be ignorant about what the other member is learning or working with. Let not our ignorance be our pride.
Like the learning organisations plan and organise learning activities, families too can organise learning activities. We can learn a few things from each other and experience the joy of sharing knowledge and learning new skills. We can have planned sessions where the family members to learn together something new to the family. Much powerful learning comes from people learning ‘with and from others.’
“The family that eats together stays together” is an adage supported by findings of several researches. Eating together in a relaxed and happy setting is healthy for the body and mind. I would like to add that “The family that learns together grows together.”
There are some families who plan TV time, to watch a few favourite shows together – adjusting other activities at home not to conflict with the timings of the “must see” serials.
Like we plan to watch regular TV shows through the year, we can plan and organise family learning activities. Sample points we can consider to plan the learning activities:
- Learning goals, subjects and skills we want to learn as a family, involving every (or most of the) family member.
- Areas of family activities to apply the leaning. Some learning may be for enjoyment – like study of literature, music appreciation.
- Schedule and time table for the week, month, and year. We can consider family holidays and festivals.
- Resources needed like books, internet access, instruments etc.
- Periodical measurement of the output, to know that we are on track and to correct the course of journey if needed.