Education is for Empowerment, Never Examination
One of the challenges of the current education system is that it is perceived as meant for employment and is finite. Most people go to school to get a certificate that will hopefully boost their chances of employment with their next job application. Many others see a PhD as the peak of learning, after which they can heave a sigh of relief; “Phew! I’m done”. Mercifully, there is a handful that sees education for what it really is-meant for empowerment (not employment) and infinite (there is always room to learn something new). The progressive salesperson is among this lot.
Many employers will do their best and take the sales team for training and yes that is commendable and is to be fostered; learning, however, must be reinforced to be instilled. We take the skills of reading and writing for granted but they took years of practice before becoming second nature-thankfully, the school system already has this factored in. The progressive salesperson knows the importance of reinforcing learning-so he will not wait for the next training session, lamenting with the mediocre ones that “we need to be taken for more training”. No. He will expand his knowledge base considerably-he will understudy a sales person he admires in his team; he will have a network of salespeople outside his industry whom he exchanges notes with on tried and tested methods that have yielded success in the field; he will have informal sessions with his customers to find out how he can improve; he will scour the internet for skills he can employ to boost his abilities; he will thirst for a trickling of knowledge like he would drops of water in a desert. Such knowledge deeply enriches the salesperson-prospect interaction. Selling is a profession. And like any other profession, those who choose it don’t qualify, then practice, and then put on the brakes to learning. No. They study continually, they attend seminars relevant to their chosen field, they train, they subscribe to newsletters, they read reports on the latest goings-on and the learning is constant and never ending. And why? Because, when we stop learning and practicing the knowledge atrophies. Just like with the advent of the computer (and therefore typing) you and I find it harder and harder to write at length with a pen-something we did with ease when it was the only way of communicating in literal fashion.
One of the challenges adult education has (training being an example), is that the students’ frame of mind is set in a form of education that was meant for examination, not implementation. So notes are discarded after class ends, some are even left in class and others discovered years later, when moving house, stashed on a dusty shelf. After all, there wasn’t going to be a CAT or national examination to test what we learnt, so why bother studying?! Certificates are quickly photocopied to supplement the existing job applications and the title of the seminar even quicker still, inserted in the CV especially if the training is from a reputable training firm. Unfortunately, only a few generals emerge from this horde of soldiers and do what the seminar intended implementation of what was learnt.
New knowledge implies a different way of doing things; it means a replenishment of our reservoir of knowledge; it means remaining relevant. But only if implemented. Even we writers many times get our inspiration to do so from reading widely. Education is infinite and as cliche’ as it sounds, when we stop learning, we die-not in the physical way, but worse still, the relevance way.
The realization that our childhood education does not dovetail adult education should move us to change and embrace learning for implementation-not examination. Education remains with you-it’s an investment in yourself whether you remain with your employer or not. Educate yourself continually.
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