I have always been interested in knowledge. As a young child barely able to read, I would paw my way through social studies and history workbooks for children much older. The stories fascinated me and the tests tickled my competitive nature. Throughout school I had the benefit of nurturing, energetic teachers more committed to the idea of "teaching" than the strictures of curricula — which ensured that my curiosity was stoked like a small fire, not beaten into submissive ash. At least until my final year 😉
When I had the opportunity to teach at university level, I jumped at the chance. I loved the challenge and the opportunity — lecturing and tutoring in postmodern studies as well as Australian performance for a year or so. And then even through my business and marketing career that followed, the opportunity to teach or share knowledge was often available — I spent a couple of years combining technology, marketing and innovation setting up IBM’s first "knowledge factory" outside of the USA and then moved into "innovation management" and then onto marketing for Fujitsu. That meant teaching my teams — but also, always, learning myself.
One of the things that I learned was that marketing = learning and vice versa. For the type of learning that impacts a person’s behaviour you need to understand human nature. You need to understand "change" and you need to understand motivation. And now, in this Age of Conversation, where learning is no longer confined to a single location and it is again, like in my childhood, based around interest-driven participation (John Seely Brown), there is even greater pressure on teachers (both of children and adults) to stay abreast of new and emerging technologies.
There are some truly astounding breakthroughs happening in the education world. Kids with their grasp of technology and willingness to experiment are o’erleaping their teachers (and their parents). Technology companies are building ever more powerful tools that enable virtual classrooms, online collaboration and eLearning; Communities are coming together to develop cheap or open source alternatives and "social media" applications are finding themselves co-opted into the service of Education 2.0 initiatives. It is learning by doing. And if this signals the death of education, then it also indicates the dawn of learning.