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How to encourage lifelong learning in your workplace

Dr Peter Stiles is the Acting Head of Education at Excelsia College and he recently shared the advice below during the “Encouraging a Culture of Lifelong Learning at Your School” webinar.

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Within most educational environments, you would think the value of lifelong learning wouldn’t be questioned. Yet often, promoting this culture isn’t as straightforward as it would seem. The same can be said for business environments, where short-term profit and loss take priority over employee learning and development.

I’ve outlined some tried and tested strategies to assist teachers – in particular – who are passionate about the learning and development of their students and fellow teaching staff. These strategies are also effective in business environments, and will help to lay the foundations or to further cement a culture of lifelong learning.

Encourage reading and discussion of ideas
It’s crucial in the early stages of developing a culture of lifelong learning to encourage reading, both within and outside of the classroom. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Those that read a lot, generally tend to write well. This skill will not only help others academically in their studies, but also in their professional lives.

It builds confidence and greater rapport with others.

As your students and colleagues build on their reading skills, allow them to discuss what they are reading. This can also include reading related to hobbies and interests. It builds confidence and greater rapport with others. Particularly useful for students, this encourages them to discuss what they have learned through reading and conversations, and helps develop ideas around those concepts and theories.

A quick and easy tactic for teachers to implement in the classroom – which is useful with your employees, too – is the D.E.A.R reading program. Standing for “Drop Everything and Read”, this is a good strategy to help settle the mind and inject some extra reading time into the day.

Highlight the value of research and actively seeking knowledge
There are many ways to develop knowledge around the information gained through reading. Promoting the importance of research is key, whether preparing for an assignment as a student or researching particular topics of interest (or concern) when you are a classroom teacher.

Libraries, both physical and digital, are the perfect place to research concepts and nurture an inquisitive mind.

You can encourage visits to the school or local library, and the use of all relevant resources. If accessibility to a physical library is an issue, there’s always digital resources available at the click of a mouse. Libraries, both physical and digital, are the perfect place to research concepts and nurture an inquisitive mind. Another avenue for seeking knowledge is reaching out to senior team members or experts in certain fields. By building up networks in this way, you are likely to learn a lot from their wisdom and personal experiences.

Take action to broaden your professional horizons
Although it’s great to talk about learning, it’s more important to put it into practice. We are blessed to have an array of industry associations, bodies and professional networks that support continuous learning and development. There are a number of conferences and events that professionals have access to; it’s a matter of attending, networking and reaping the professional benefits that come with building strong relationships and sharing knowledge.

Encouraging colleagues to pursue online degrees is an excellent approach to lifelong learning. Online education provides adult learners with the luxury of part-time study in conjunction with full-time work, to equip them with applicable techniques and strategies for their career progression.

It’s often difficult to improve pre-existing cultures or barriers which aren’t conducive to continuous learning. It’s important to realise that power lies in time and numbers: banding together with like-minded colleagues can really help your cause, whilse giving yourself ample time to digest the information and discuss what you learn.

If others can see and comprehend the tangible, positive impact that lifelong learning can bring to a workplace, it will be much easier to make it a part of your every day.

For information regarding upcoming webinars, please visit Excelsia College Online.

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