Of note: Two New Books

  • Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance by Jay Cross, Pfeiffer, 2007
  • Honouring the Child: Changing Ways of Teaching by Pamela Proctor
  • Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance

“It is no longer useful to define learning as what someone is able to do all on his or her lonesome. This is not Survivor. Knowledge workers of the future will have instant, ubiquitous access to the Net. The measure of their learning is an open-book exam. “What can you do?” has been replaced with “What can you and your network connections do?” Knowledge itself is moving from the individual to the individual and his/her contacts.” – Informal Learning

I read widely in education and learning and each year I find one or two books, rarely more, that I find compelling enough to pump my arm in the air and shout, “yes! YES!” Fairly recent examples for me in this category were ‘Unlock the Genius Within,” by Dr. Daniel Janik (2006), and “Smart Moves, Why learning isn’t all in your head,” by Carla Hannaford (2005).

I haven’t even finished ‘Informal Learning’ by Jay Cross but I’ve been waving my hands emphatically since I started reading it several weeks ago. Gleaned from his work as a corporate consultant (HR, corporate training, recruitment) Cross stacks profile on profile of the very rapidly changing world of workplace learning.

corporate learning used to emerge via intimidating binders, weekend retreats and, more recently, tedious PowerPoint presentations, Cross points out that a new day has dawned for corporate learning, yielding much higher participant satisfaction and productivity. This new corporate learning scape is enhanced through conversation, visualization, online collaboration, complemented by formal training but not driven by it.

I highly recommend this book to any person hoping to stoke the fires of learning in an organizational setting. And in case you’re wondering what Cross has to say about schooling, well, to no surprise, his comments aren’t flattering:

“Today’s free-range learners are knowledge workers. They expect the freedom to connect the dots themselves. Imagine the difference between a free-range (informal) learner and (formal) high school student The high school student is not allowed to take notes, books, or a cell phone into the room for the final exam. Happily for us all, life is unlike high school.”

‘Honouring the Child; Changing Ways of Teaching’ by Pamela Proctor

A couple of weekends back I had the honour to help preside over an event in Gibsons and introduce Pam Proctor and her new book, ‘Honouring the Child, Changing Ways of Teaching.’

Pam, now in her seventies, graduated from UBC Faculty of Education the year I was born (1957!). In 1971 she co-founded a remarkable open-concept schooling project in Vancouver: the ‘Charles Dickens Annex’ program, after having traveled to England to learn about holistic learning and open schooling. For the next 16 years she worked in the CD Annex program, where children’s happiness remained a defining characteristic, kids could remain with siblings for several years, they were able to choose their study subjects, and on and on …

Pam’s book is about her study time in England (including visiting the famed ‘Summerhill’ and interviewing its founder AS Neill) and her years in the CDA program. She was eventually transferred out of CDA, and the program has been steadily standardized to this day. I think the book is a wonderful read and a compelling testimony to a time when our public system embraced innovation, holistic learning and open-concept schooling. At the book launch on Saturday were a number of Pam’s teaching colleagues as well as several former students of the program, all of whom were confirming in their praise of the program and this unfortunately bygone era.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.