This summer I purposefully didn’t book any client work with a plan to have an August Readathon, catching up on all those great business writings I’ve never read cover to cover. I’d decided dipping in and out of topical tomes hadn’t given me a true sense of the text in my context. The epic list includes Frederic Laloux, Amy Brann, Julian Stodd, Nigel Paine, Paul Matthews, and several others I regularly see discussed in my network.
It is now September and all I’ve managed is a re-read of a few pages of Julian Stodd’s The Social Leadership whilst on a beach, until it rained and we went home. I feel like a failure, and somewhat of a fraud because I tweeted I was reading Julian’s book. That tweet gained a lot of love, which made me believe my attempt to read more was the right thing to do. However I haven’t read. It confuses me as to why.
My husband reads all the time, and I really mean ALL the time. He reads cleaning his teeth, eating his breakfast, whilst having a coffee, when teaching at school, relaxing before bed – pretty much every opportunity he gets. He reads articles on his phone, a variety of magazine subscriptions, textbooks, novels, lots. And my children are the same. Every Summer Reading Challenge posed by the local library is greatly embraced. Going up a reading level at school is gamification in action. But I’ve never been a big reader, so I’d never imagined regularly uttering the words ‘Please put the book down so we can get on with the day’ to my children. It is a great parenting problem to have, I guess.
It is in my thorough disappointment with myself that I have come to reflect on why I wasn’t able to achieve my summer reading challenge. The will was there. The motivation was there. The need to be upskilled on all this ‘stuff’ like my peers was there. The time was there. So what is missing in me to make it happen? I was chatting to some respected colleagues about my lack of reading at a recent Tweet Up. Reading abstracts was suggested as a work around, however I feel I would only ever be interpreting the book in someone else’s shorthand. It was suggested if I was truly motivated I would have done it, and I agree although I feel parenting over the summer holidays impacted on that. It was suggested that perhaps reading is simply not my thing. That was an ‘ah-ha’ moment; perhaps it is not.
As I don’t read books often, I am a slow reader, I suppose. I am easily distracted with my full brain and schedule, and find myself drifting off in my thoughts when I read. It doesn’t happen if I listen or watch, so perhaps reading isn’t my thing. But that seems like a lame excuse, no matter how true it might be. Yet there is truth in it. Meeting with a client this week he mentioned he had written a workbook for his delegates to follow his face to face class, as he “liked to have something to refer back to after a class”. To provide a book to students these days is an interesting option, as surely less people access the printed word via a physical book. Whilst I don’t read books, I do love blogs and online articles as they fit my schedule. They are pick up and put downable, and they don’t eat lots of my day. My client mentioned several times in our conversation that he likes to read, hence a workbook. If it were me, I would never look at that workbook, but if after a class you sent me some photos of the day, of flipchart pages, a summary video, a podcast, or a summary article of a class discussion, I’d be all over that like a wasp on a can of pop. Reading a book just seems too much commitment in my world of instant and now.
One of the reasons I am keen to read more is because I am thinking about what to do at the end of this year when #NoPlasters comes to an end. For those new to the hashtag, I tweet daily with practical ‘How-To-Do’s on workplace learning designed to support learning practitioners move the profession forward. It would be a shame to simply leave that info on Twitter waiting to be found. I was toying with the idea of writing the tweets into a book, or a creative alternative, which would allow the ideas to live on and reach a wider audience, because let’s face it, if an L&D practitioner is on Twitter, they are getting lots of great ideas anyway. It is those not on Twitter who are likely to benefit from #NoPlasters. We need to think of ways to engage with all people, not just those who are like us, or who do the things we do.
In thinking about my client and his preference for his workbook, we can conclude that in only providing a book he is excluding the likes of me, who are enthusiastic learners, but not book readers. We need to think more creatively to ensure we are getting good learning to those who need it. I am mindful that perhaps we are all a little guilty of training in our own preferred ways, communicating in our own way, and engaging with the world in our preference too. Thinking creatively allows more people to access better learning experiences.
If you struggle with creativity in your thinking about workplace learning, come along my session Getting Creative in L&D at Learning Live on Thursday 10th September 2015 for a practical look at how to do things differently in L&D. Click here for further information: http://thelpiservices.com/learninglive/sessions/getting-creative-in-ld/
Meanwhile, perhaps I’ll get back to my reading…..