Monday, May 28, 2007

Learning Opportunities, the ones that never knock..?

When a person undertakes an MBA, there are several paradoxes of learning they must deal with.

The big one, no doubt, is the 'old' versus 'new' in adult learning. Unlike children or younger learners, managers come into the programme with a sophisticated knowledge base constructed around many very well established beliefs and strategies. They've had, in fact, years of experience. Since they are about to get going on a major piece of self development, there is often no real barrier to the idea of new ideas. However, if these new ideas require the old ones to change, it can be quite a painful process.

Another paradox is revolves around whether a programme member, the learner, gains more from achieving high marks, which validate their assessed input, or from low marks (or even failure), which usually generates longer and more considered feedback and reflection and sometimes even challenges them to re-think their thinking (double loop learning?). I can recall starting my MBA and feeling that not getting a good grade was a judgement on my capability. It was, but not in the way I thought at the time. What was really being tested was my capability to learn how to learn. I didn't get that until much later on!

These dilemmas sit in the same intellectual doctor's waiting room as the College's own paradox of a study programme where the customer is also the consumer; having come so far in their careers, and with them having paid so much money [and they just being so awfully busy] should we make it a easy ride for them or should we stubbornly stick to our guns and patiently wait for the realisation (which might never come, or might not come during the MBA) that the big thing you need to know about the MBA that its real opportunities lie not in plainly sailing through it - but rather in what you learn about yourself in the storms.


Gabriel said...

It takes a lot of humility to accept a shake-up, and even then it's not easy at all.

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