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Learning unlocks all doors

Newsletter Issue 32 : April 2011

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4 petals of learning

Sanjeev Dhawan

Today's world & the world to come is governed by today's learning.

Many people have defined the present age as the age of knowledge. But learning is more than knowledge.

In one of my earlier articles (learning never stops) there was reference to four ashrams that govern the life as per Vedic wisdom. I am reproducing the diagram below with a different perspective..

They four ashrams beautifully signify the learning progression as we go through our lives. We can apply the same principals in the context of today's corporate learning strategy (as shared below under knowledge age heading).

Step-1 focuses on gaining knowledge

Vedic age: In this stage, one does academic learning. After some basic education the learner would move to some specialization based on his interest and performance.

Knowledge age: Though knowledge is available aplenty nowadays, it still needs to be taught to make a connect with the learners' environment. This step has two pre-requisites.

  • The learner must need the knowledge.

    • Majority of training programme in business organisations are decided by HRD personnel. Though these may be based on objective analysis, the learners feel that these have been thrust upon them and this acts as a barrier to learning. An alternative could be to link the training needs to the actual projects/ work the learner is performing, meaning directly linked to work. The pull should be to perform & the training may be offered as a support. This helps the participants to make a choice to learn. It will create a need for knowledge.

  • The facilitator should have gone through the 4 stages of learning.

    • Though an orthodox perspective but it requires the learning facilitator to have long & wide experience not only in the subject, but also in life.

Step-2 focuses on using the knowledge

Vedic age: Grhastha ashrama is the center stage; it is the phase where a person contributes most to the society. S/he sustains the society, financially and otherwise.

Knowledge age: One major grouse of HRD professionals, whom I meet, is the retention of learning from training sessions that cost a lot in terms of money, time & effort. Thereby the focus is on ROI.

It is true that the retention of knowledge from training sessions lasts a very small time. One of the effective ways to improve the knowledge retention is to (use the knowledge) put it to practice immediately after the training session. Taking up some project related to their work area is a very good option from the perspective of the learner & also form the perspective of the organisation. With many of our clients, we encourage learners to take up specific projects based on their learning. Invariably, it makes the retention of learning longer.

Step-3 focuses on self reflection

Vedic age: One becomes inward looking. S/he still contributes with his experience, through advising and teaching for the benefit of society alone.

Knowledge age: When the learner shares his/ her experience of practicing the knowledge with others, s/he has to first reflect internally before sharing it with others. Follow up sessions where the learners make presentation on the projects undertaken by them to the senior executives & peers will accomplish this objective. The session also works well for giving feedback & evaluating the effectiveness of training.

Step-4 focuses on teaching

Vedic age: Completely withdrawing from the world, this is a time of complete dedication to spiritual pursuits.

Knowledge age: Presentations also offer a window to share our learning with others. It is a good idea to encourage the learners to share (teach) their learning with their teams & peers.

We can imbibe these as our learning strategy for any subject or, topic and reap the benefit of wisdom of the Vedic age.


 Happy learning