Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning for Work

This is a really good question, on Reports from a Resident Alien:

Why is it that we are expected to learn some things on our own; but that we are not expected to ever learn other things without help--even when those things are of equal complexity?

She compares learning the tasks of a job in a lab, complex but also carefully explained and supervised, with learning how to take public transportation, which has its own complexities, but is rarely explained in much detail and certainly doesn't have an established training process.

I definitely remember the uneasy sense of uncertainty when I first started riding the subway (a confusion which is renewed every time I go to another city and use their public transportation, generally much the same, but always slightly different).

How, exactly, do you pay? How do you move--how do you hold yourself in the crowd? How do you signal you want to get off? It's not difficult, but it's not nothing. There's stuff you have to know, steps you have to take.

Why, indeed, do we get very careful instruction on some things, and limited instruction on others?

My theory: money.

People train you to do stuff that they need you to do for business, or that they assume you'll need to know to earn a living (if it's not actually training related to a specific job), while you're kind of on your own if it's just something you need to do for your own convenience.

Your convenience is on you.


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