We see a steady stream of reports on the “future of work” that call for human skills development. Unlike technical skills, human skills are difficult to teach. Skills that involve social interaction and thinking evolve over a lifetime, from the playground to the workplace and beyond.
Some futurists see interactive training simulations and online courses as a seductive path to greater empathy, imagination and resilience: “Forget those messy, real people—learn to negotiate with avatars!”
Peer Learning: radically timeless
Before we place too much faith in digital options, let’s examine the benefits of natural, human-to-human approaches.
First we should consider equal access to human skills development. Rather than rely on the latest costly, exclusive technical solutions, we can be inspired by timeless, traditional, low cost ways of absorbing life’s deeper lessons.
Indigenous learning circles, for example, respect everyone who gathers to talk through real life experiences. In contrast to isolated training events, these ongoing conversations enrich participants’ understanding of diverse viewpoints. They nurture caring, curiosity, creativity, confidence and a sense of contribution.
What if we build on the concept of traditional learning circles, along with the human-centric Japanese notion of Ba, or shared space for emerging relationships and knowledge creation? Instead of expecting artificial training situations to change our lifelong habits of mind and interaction, why not learn by reflecting on our real, ongoing, everyday experiences? Radically timeless!