When You Finish High School, Are You Done Learning?
Back in the Day
Think about it. Not that long ago, earning a High School diploma was considered having a “complete” education. You were “done” learning. It was the end of classrooms, and reading assigned books. The end of sitting for endless hours, listening to a teacher drone on about the History of the French Revolution, or any other topic that you had zero chance of ever needing in real life. In fact, just finishing High School was a major accomplishment. In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education.
What did you do next? Well, if you were a man, you either went into the military, or got a job. Some men may have gone to a trade school (e.g., to become a plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, etc.). If you were a woman, you may have gone to College, just long enough to get your "MRS." Degree (i.e., get married). Hopefully, you had already snagged a husband in High School, and you got married just as soon as you had enough money saved up to set out on your own.
The GI Bill
A shift started to occur in the U.S. at the end of World War II, when returning soldiers were able to go to college on the GI Bill. Prior to the passage of the GI bill, college was attended mainly by society's upper class. With the government paying tuition, nearly 8 million WW II veterans went to college after the war. These veterans were anxious to "catch up" after spending years away from home. The program was a success.
That was the first wave of "regular" citizens attending college. Then slowly the economy started to shift away from manufacturing, and towards technology and service industries. These jobs generally required more education. Fast forward to today, where it seems that “going on to college” is the norm, rather than the exception.
But It Doesn’t End There
One important fact about technology is that it’s always evolving. Windows 7, becomes 8, becomes who knows what? New software, new devices, and new methods are being developed every day. And since we humans were not born with a “chip” planted in our brains, we have to learn the new stuff or be left behind.
Learning in Today’s World
When you hear someone say, “All you have to do is read the manual,” does it make your heart sink? The alternative is to go to a class, either online or in person. If you are lucky, the class has been properly designed to maximize your learning (i.e., presenting just what you need to know in a logical sequence), and minimize your pain. And hopefully that class was designed by a professional, and not some tech nerd in a cubicle, who somehow thinks you may need to know the computer source code in order to run the latest version of Word.
What goes into a professionally designed training class you might ask? Mainly, the course will contain "need to know" information, with a minimum of "nice to know" stuff. It will be written around specific learning objectives, and be tailored to the learners in the class. As a professional Instructional Designer, I am particularly sensitive to these distinctions.
Summing it All Up
It’s the 21st century, and you are not allowed to just “rest on your laurels.” If you’re like me, you welcome the opportunity to learn something new. In fact, I think of myself as a lifelong learner. I believe the world would be a better place if we were all to adopt the motto of Phi Kappa Phi. This honor society takes its name from the initial letters of the Greek words forming its adopted motto: Philosophìa Krateìto Photôn, "Let the love of learning rule humanity."