Learning (not being taught) in 2016

Posted on 15/01/2016



talk to the experts

(Courtesy Mai Le)

One of my New Years (work) resolutions is to share more. With that, I’ve committed to a few things: sharing successes more widely, passing on feedback more often (good and bad), and finally to share expertise.

But of the three it’s the last one that I have the most trouble with. Not that I’m reluctant to, but that I don’t always think it’s the right approach.

Knowledge can shared. It’s quicker and easier than ever before. It’s also abundant, which to some extent devalues it. Expertise, however, can only be developed by individuals themselves. So for me, the issue with sharing expertise is really about difference between being taught and learning.

Being taught is incredibly passive – it relies on a single source to do all the work, requires experts to be formally qualified, is tailored to the group not the individual, and usually follows a pre-defined structure. It’s therefore very limiting.

That’s not doing teaching professionals a disservice. In fact, the very best teachers are not necessarily the best at teaching or at sharing information. What they’re good at is helping people to learnt.

Learning requires much more agency on the part of the individual. It involves asking questions, finding places or people that can provide answers and then analysis of these answers. Teaching has a role to play, but where it’s most useful is in guiding learning, not in giving the right answers.

So this year I’m not going to be sharing information; anyone can do that (and lord knows we’ve enough of it crammed into our feeds and newsletters every day). Instead I’m working on a way to guide learning, and I’m starting by sharing the places and people I go to for answers and ideas.

This week, I’m starting with a16z – the blog/podcast of Andreessen Horowitz, the San Fran based VC firm. Reason is, nobody writes / talks about tech as well as these guys.

There’s an ocean of great stuff out there, so likewise pass on any great blogs and people you follow below.