ImageI remember as a small boy that I had a personal fascination with knowledge.  Sure I had all of those childhood outlets of play and imagining various roles that one could work towards.  My earliest interest was during a TV program that was talking about books and how a person never could read every possible book created.  While it never entered my mind that it was something to be challenged it did establish a strong foothold on the need to acquire as much pertinent knowledge as possible.

Yesterday

ImagePre-historically primitive human beings resort to simple grunts to communicate.  Cave drawings immortalized events, some memorable and others were simply a chronicle about everyday life.  The appearance of the written text occurred approximate 26/27 BC and was used to tell the story behind the illustration.  Written text cause the need for reading literacy in order to be appreciative of the information being communicated.  Since that time we have been overwhelmed with the creation of text based information.  Most is accurate but there is always a bit that is based on personal conjecture and opinion.  But the skill in reading, understanding the fundamentals and discussions amongst your contemporaries will help you to develop your position (which in an of itself may or may not be factual).

I share this bit of history because if we give important consideration to whether we have come full circle in our development.  In developing nations the quest for literacy can be quite strong but barriers cause attainment to become unattainable.  Yet in nations in with a fairly normal literacy level (although in many it has been on the decline) we are finding that reading has give way to pictures, presentations (YouTube, webinars and brief snip-its on social networks).  Some would argue that this is the result is a decline in print readership as a result of information accessible via the internet.  But what we have is not about the media that the information is being delivered on but the fact that society has become attracted to what is easy, imparts quickly and may not necessarily develop the endurance to read in total on a particular subject (or topic).  Yes, there are exceptions but the viewpoints put forth are about general trends and behavior.

Stock excuses about time, effort and need for instantaneous gratification have all been voiced and used as a catalyst for present day communication outlets.  But what isn’t discussed is about the downside issues of a reliance in these channels and what they don’t provide that print (or even electronic) writing do.  For me its a bit ironic and also a bit challenging to even write about this topic since its has a strong likelihood of being read.  Maybe I should have resorted to a YouTube with a allot of attraction and entertainment value, and limit the topic to only one stimulating concept.  Possibly a webinar although I doubt that anyone would want to listen to a topic about a catalyst for learning and knowledge.  In short, imparting this information is like early humans… we need to do it with pictures.  We need to spark the interest and create the desire to go the next step (possibly with illustrating that you have just started the journey, sort of like being at level 1 in a video game).

Today

ImageKnowing that we are in a place with we have advanced yet we are reverting back toward primitive communication forms (albeit using modern technology…. the social networks becoming our cave drawings) one must ask what is causing this?  Sure we are in a very demanding, rapidly changing world that has numerous complexities.  Many of these are the direct result of our access to information, both good and bad.  But systemically our interest in all of this is dependent upon two factors; early childhood development and adult interest creation.  Families, education system and societies carry a tremendous amount of influence on the outcome of children who later become results.  They are shaped from their experiences and the way we set the stage about learning.  When given the comparison of being told vs. self-exploration almost every child will choose the latter because children are naturally curious.  Where we have gone terribly wrong is that while there is a time for principal introduction and understanding we have opted to almost totally abandoned creativity and exploration.  I suspect that possibly this is out of fear in losing control.  When you hold the key to knowledge you can control behavior, but when you share the key with others you must relinquish that control (and become a mentor and frankly many are fearful about their abilities).  Let it be know that its okay to not know, its okay not to have an answer but you can and should be capable of leading in their quest for knowledge.  It should also be made very clear that society, as a whole and inclusive of parents and community, must take an active interest in promoting learning.  All too often it is far too easy to give way to entertainment sources, thinking they need cool down time, then to build a fortitude and commitment to making learning a life long ambition.  Sure you can and should have downtime but not as the sole outlet.  When was the last time you heard of recreational reading (other than from adults)?

Immersion in Never-Never Land

ImageImagination and innovation aren’t teachable, they are virtues that demand amplification through knowledge interest.  Even without hidden virtues one can develop a level in which the interest can be explored AND enjoyed.  When was the last time you heard someone say, “I love learning?:   Yes, quite a rarity and one that when heard is often prefaced with some reason why it was being done.  Simply learning and exploring is freeing.  One doesn’t need to worry about winning, losing or achieving its simply equipping you with new things, and everyone loves new things.  Every study has shown a decline in reading for our youth as they mature, and yet an increase in adult reading.  Possibly its the message or the way in which reading and knowledge is imparted.  As for adults, we ready out of necessity to be a part of a knowledge based society and not in the dark corner of illiteracy.

In Search of the Origin of Life

ImageAside from adults reading to be a part of a productive literate society adults read to seek answers.  Maybe its about advancement in career, learning how to resolve a failing marriage or learning about a new technology relative to your work.  We read out of necessity (and yes there are some who don’t ready and expect knowledge to be spoon fed though instantaneous channels).  My fear however is that selective reading may lead us to selective knowledge and intelligence.  We get part of the answer, possibly the most popular one, but fail to have a full enough perspective to discern the true reality.  Time and time again we have seen that as a person moves up the corporate ladder that they reading behavior changes.  It follows an all to familiar pattern of the children reading patterns.  What starts off in grade school with much zeal and interest deteriorates so by the time they graduate they are hardly putting any effort into both necessary academic reading and recreational types.

Third-Eye Challenge

ImageWith a very large social connections and an even larger viral network I offer up the challenge to prove my point.  Here is the case…

If you are in management, either by title and/or responsibility, do you read regularly about your area of expertise?

Assuming that the readership of this blog entry, via these social networks, is effective I should receive tens of thousands of acknowledgements (I will post the results in a future addendum to this posting).  I have done similar studies before in this area and have found that the readership is miserable at best.  One could argue that its the outlet, network or possibly the topic but are the retorts plausible…. I don’t think so!  I think its more the case about reading in general.  We suffer under the belief that we command an expert level of knowledge and as a result there isn’t much more we can learn.  Likewise we suffer under the misunderstanding that related topics bear any applicability to the knowledge area we are responsible for.  But more concerning is that if in fact we are these knowledge brokers why aren’t we communicating and sharing this with others?  Is it a lack of communication (writing confidence) ability or have we relied on simply thinking that we haven’t the time.  The last time I checked time remains the same but what has changed has been how we use it.  I asked my children to share how they spend their 24 hours.  This was eye opening for them when they saw how much time was spent on eating, sleeping and recreating AND how little time was spent on knowledge development.  Did it change their behavior and my tact in guiding them… absolutely.  The cats are easier to herd when there is awareness and less so when its barking out commands to go left or to go right.  Time will tell whether it will endure, become habitual and whether changes need to be made to stimulate interest (but that is my challenge and thank goodness I’m interested enough to become KNOWLEDGEABLE)!

Fundamental Change

The solution is quite easy…. Just DO IT!  Implementation is a totally different matter.  Allow me to offer some suggestions.

  1. EncouImagerage learning set in an atmosphere surround with purpose, curiosity, quest and simple enjoyment.  De-emphasize that a test or a grade is in any shape form or fashio
  2. n a measure of knowledge (it is not it measures ability to remember and often lacks in the ability to gauge application).
  3. Set and be an example.
  4. Make resources available.
  5. Set challenges and topics for mutual exploration (a project approach).
  6. As business leaders face the realization that you don’t know it all, that you shouldn’t place all of the reliance on others and that you can fool you way through your professional career by discounting what you haven’t taken the time to understand.  I apologize if you are hurt or offend my these direct comments but I am telling you for your own personal and professional benefit.  Wake up and realize that when you ready with the intent of acquiring knowledge it can be quite refreshing and freeing.
  7. Use our instantaneous sugar rush from quick outlets to supplement a knowledge base.  They seldom can be a comprehensive source even when there are a few pieces of credible topical offerings.

We should be striving for knowledge whether we are poor or rich, deprived or gifted, smart or not so smart all because its FREE and accessible.  Developing nations are spending hundreds of millions on infrastructure and outlet development to provide access (while others are trying to deprive their citizens because knowledge is a mighty sword).  Make the effort today and everyday to learn and read anything that you can put your eyes to.  Learn how to discern and to quickly scan information to build up a base to work from.  We are at no other time in global history where we need to be wiser, smarter, creative and well informed.  Without this and the deterioration of knowledge development we are destine to suffer a fate that many of us, and generations to come, will possibly not be able to endure.

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