Time for learning

I mentioned the Xyleme Voices podcasts the other day. I particularly liked Conrad Gottfredson’s concept of learning at the moment of need. He talks about providing performance support to address each of these situations:

  • When learning for the first time
  • When learning more
  • When remembering and/or applying what’s been learned
  • When things go wrong
  • When things change

The first two situations lend themselves readily to formal training ( though I’m sure some will disagree). The other three don’t fit well with traditional training modes; performance support tools make even more sense in these cases.

You’ll find an invitation to discuss performance support, and lots more, at PS: Learning @ the Moment of Need, a blog written by Gottfredson and Bob Mosher.

Looking at “when things go wrong” and “when things change,” I find myself thinking about an article in yesterday’s New York Times. For the Elderly, Being Heard about Life’s End discusses “slow medicine” — and approach providing less aggressive medical care at the end of life.

I’m sensitive to this because my parents are quite old, and my father in particular has faded in the past year or two. Although they still have their own home, the realities of their situation remind me that things always change and often go wrong.

My parents in 1951

My parents in the Red Rows, ca. 1951.

In our hyperlinked, hyperconnected world, it’s easy to think that technology trumps everything. The Times article demonstrates strikingly how facts can trump impressions.

…9 of 10 people who live into their 80s will wind up unable to take care of themselves, either because of frailty or dementia. “Everyone thinks they’ll be the lucky one, but we can’t go along with that myth,â€? Dr. McCullough [of Kendal at Hanover, a retirement community affiliated with Dartmouth Medical School] said…

A 2002 study, published in the journal Heart, found that fewer than 2 percent of people in their 80s and 90s who had been resuscitated for cardiac arrest at home lived for one month.

So that’s maybe a reminder with two edges:

  • Make my own learning (for my work and for my life) a regular priority.
  • Use time when I can as insurance against time when I can’t.