jusummerhayes

What have we learnt?

Photo by 30daysreplay (PR & Marketing) - Social Media Beratung on Unsplash
Photo by 30daysreplay (PR & Marketing) - Social Media Beratung on Unsplash
Learning is forever reducing, diminishing, winnowing, because it is animated by wonder, and wonder is the courageous capacity to test and prod the very ground under one’s feet in the name of determining how it all might have come to be as it is, and whether it will continue to bear you. And this is the very ground of divination. It is acute attention to the details of the present. Learning has a hard time accumulating certainty, since wonder is given over so often to contemplating and testing the certainties that have been settled upon. Learning is a willing engagement with impoverishment, with the threadbaredness of what has claimed the attention of the family, the workplace, the sanctuary, the elect, the culture. Stephen Jenkinson, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble (p. 96) 

Good morning from a damp and slightly cool Devon.

I didn't get the best night's sleep, but then it didn't help that his Lordship — aka Alfie — decided he wanted to join me!

Still, I'm here. 

Another day of legal mayhem and a few other things. 

And that's a blessing, always. 

I'm conscious it's Friday and, no doubt, you'll have better things to do than while away the time reading another prolix blog of mine, but if the title is of sufficient interest for you to allow yourself a few precious minutes then you might want to read on. But then again, if you disappear now, well, that's fine too. I won't know anyway 😄.

Jenkinson writes a masterful chapter (Chapter 6) highlighting and taking apart the difference between knowing and learning. I wish I could link to it but I don't think that's possible: you'll have to buy the book. But the above quote distils (I think) at least part of what I want to say.

In short, we place too much store — in fact, all of it — by accumulating knowledge but little or nothing by learning. This isn't semantics. This is real. I love in fact that Jenkinson uses the qualification PhD and says that that's shorthand for 'pile it high and deep'. Now I don't possess one, but I get his point. Perhaps it's a cheap shot. The more substantive point, though, is that the world is awash with knowledge but I don't see much if any learning going on that might influence change — seismic or otherwise. 

I mean, lift up any human-originated stone — e.g. healthcare, the environment, social inequality, consumerism, money, the world of work — and, well, it's all pretty crap. Oh sure, there are lots of well-meaning, erstwhile and gutsy people trying their best to effect change but it's not enough, not nearly enough to turn things on their axis. In fact, only yesterday I was having a conversation with someone about behaviour in the workplace and it dawned on me, not for the first time, that having worked for nearly 40 years, I hadn't seen any change — sweet fu*k all in fact — apropos human behaviour, despite all the rhetoric and BS that had been talked up and/or implemented? Sorry, that's a bit crass but I haven't. In fact, more often than not when I hear someone talk about another new thing that's going to change the workplace, I'm apt to roll my eyes, like my children have so often done with me when I've gone off of one, and think "here we go again — more corporate nonsense". 

Does that make me a misanthrope or someone out of love with the employer/employee dynamic? I would hope not but it wouldn't take much to tip me over into either space.

To be honest, all that stops me falling into the abyss is the acknowledgement that we, qua humans, are not in charge and whatever is put in front of us, we'll do what we'll do. (To be clear we might say we possess free will and choice but we don't will our will despite sometimes thinking otherwise.) 

This is also another reason why I've withdrawn to a place where I'm no longer interested in offering a solution to (in particular) the messed-up world of legal services. I tried...for six odd years, and it made not one bit of difference. That could be because I was crap, but I don't think so. It was simply a case of slamming up hard against a cultural norm that was never going to change, despite the overwhelming evidence of a broken model, particularly as regards the lack of humanness in the workplace. 

These days, if it's not abundantly clear, I invite, if I'm asked to opine on an issue, for people to live in the question they're trying to answer. To not rush to any answer, lest still a solution but to find a better question that can't be annihilated or overcome with another glib answer that doesn't mean a thing.

In summary then, before we rush out the door armed with our overflowing knowledge, perhaps (and not to be pedantic) we need to ask ourselves what we've really learnt. That means laying down our perceived certainty and once again to wonder:

I wonder if?

I wonder when?

I wonder how?

But then again, I might have this all wrong. 

What do you think?

Is learning something that could change our circumstances or am I merely splitting artificial hairs?

Anyhow, have a wonderful day.

Take care.

Blessings, Ju


If you're able to support my work through patronage then you can either do so via Patreon, buying me a virtual coffee ☕ or go to my website where I've put up a 'support' page. Thank you in advance; even a small amount helps me to continue to write these blogs and maintain my site.

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