Playful Weekends#7: The Learning to Life Gap
"Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” – E. M. Forster
“I wish we were taught _____ in school.”
“I was so unprepared for ____.”
“Scared and confused”
Stage 1: Learning
Let’s look at a process we take for granted in schools even today.
A larger-than-life adult knows all the answers and stands on a podium or at the front of the class. For reference, they hold a book of answers with them that contains all the knowledge.
They deliver this knowledge and wisdom to the children who are all made to sit in orderly rows, silently and devoid of emotion.
Children listen and remember this knowledge and wisdom. To indicate that they are learning indeed they repeat in chorus and nod their heads.
Once every few months, they sit in a room with a paper in front of them and a set of judgy invigilator eyes,
Based on how well you have reproduced the right information, Adults allow children to move forward one more level. A level with more information, not necessarily harder.
Repeat steps 1 to 5 till the student is about 18-23 years old.
If you look closely at the skills that this process teaches you and tests you for, they are:
For decades, this process has remained unchanged for the vast majority of our school and college-going children.
Stage 2: Life
Now let’s take a look at a day in an average adult’s life once they come out of this ‘Learning Environment.’
You go to a workplace where you’re part of a team that’s working on a larger objective.
To get to this objective, you’re usually trying to solve a series of problems along the way.
These problems may or may not have answers, but there’s rarely a book or person who has the answer to the specific problem, so you have to experiment and try different things.
There’s so much information out there, you spend a lot of time trying to find the right information and make meaning of it.
You need to know what your own strengths are and how you can contribute to the team and the workplace.
You need to use technology at varying levels for everything from automation to reporting.
While you’re doing this, you are dealing with your own emotions - motivation, demotivation, anger, frustration, joy, satisfaction, etc.
You are balancing relationships with others both at the workplace and outside and these relationships form a wide variety of things from family, relationships, friendships, and everything in between.
You also are dealing with your physical, mental, and financial health to survive in a constantly changing world.
Now, If you look closely at the skills that you need to succeed at ‘Life’. They include:
Working with a team
Regulation and Restraint
Mindfulness and Reflection
Technology use and adaptability
∞ more skills and mindsets.
Most importantly you need the ability, attitude, and mindset to quickly find out what you need, what you currently know, and accordingly adapt, unlearn and learn.
The Learning to Life Gap
The huge gap and discrepancy between stage 1 and stage 2 listed above is what we love to refer to as the learning to life gap.
When you hang out with friends or meet someone new, it’s common to hear people wishing they were taught how to handle some of the curveballs that life throws at us as we grow up.
The skills we learnt in our ‘learning’ years were largely unhelpful when we hit these ‘life’ years.
And this gap is what causes a wide range of issues in our personal and professional lives when we grow up:
Inability to cope with change
Poor financial planning
Lack of self-awareness
Poor physical and mental health
Struggling to work with others
None of this is new and for many years organizations across the world try to teach students ‘Life-Skills’. Unfortunately, since they’re still treated as ‘extra’ to the students learning they don’t get much focus.
The good news? this has begun to change.
I believe that the next generation of learning technologies, the next transformational companies will be the one that help in bridging the gap between learning and life.
Here are 5 interesting companies that are fundamentally rethinking the way we learn and helping bridge the learning to life gap.
Synthesis: Simulation and game based learning.
Primer: Community for curious kids.
Prisma: Tailored School-Replacement with a focus on interests and abilities.
Nuvu Studio: Studio-based, Passion-centric, Design and Entrepreneurship School
Sora Schools: High School, Re-imagined - Project and mentorship focussed.
Upepo: We’ve just started, but our north star is to be on this list of companies radically reimagining learning and helping bridge the learning to life gap for every kid.
Here’s another cool graphic from educator Nikhil Gumbhir that explains how learning systems in the future will be radically different.
These approaches are still experimental and many times full of marketing and hype, but much needed if we want to start redesigning from the ground-up.
Have you heard of any radically new systems that help bridge the learning to life gap?
Let me know in the comments or replying to this!
Have a great weekend!