Re: Pay for Learning LO1452

Tobin Quereau (
Wed, 31 May 1995 09:59:58 -0500 (CDT)

Replying to LO1441 --

I am in agreement with much of what you say, Jim, and had not thought of
connecting the issue of pay and learning in quite the way you describe.
The process of learning that I value is, of course, takes place whether
someone is paying or not, and the pay is certainly not the issue of
importance for me.

What I find of consequence, however, is that all too often the issue of
what someone is "paid" to do can be an excuse for _not_ taking the time,
investing the energy, or supporting the desire on the part of employees
(and especially managers!) to learn something new which might be of value
to their own development and the development of the organization.

I guess my thoughts on the idea were more focused on whether or not at an
organizational level we aren't really demonstrating the value we place on
learning by what we expect employees to do with their work time. If we say
to employees, "The process and activity of learning is so valuable that we
want you to spend some time each day, week, month, etc, engaging in it
_and we will pay you to do it on "our" time_", I think we are giving a
kind of support, encouragement, incentive and permission that can be
helpful. In fact, we might need more and more to be saying to all
employees that they have a "responsibility" to learn what they need to
learn in order to be successful and that, while we will make available
some resources and assistance, they are the ones who must take the
initiative to "make it so!" No more excuses that "No one told me I had
to!" or "No one ever gives me time to learn what I need to!" or "There is
too much other stuff going on!"

Hopefully the flip side of that coin "no pay, no learn!" can be minimized
through modeling and celebrating lifelong learning both at and outside of
the workplace.

Tobin Quereau <>

On Tue, 30 May 1995, Jim Michmerhuizen wrote:

> On Mon, 29 May 1995, Tobin Quereau wrote:
> > How about it? What percent of your time do you manage to spend in
> > "learning" at your job? In what ways does your employer support that
> > learning (if at all)? Is the amount of time you spend learning something
> > that you could increase in some appropriate way? Are you able to
> > demonstrate the value of learning in your own job if someone asks you to?
> >
> > I have a feeling that many of you must spend a great deal of time in
> > learning since I can see the results on my screen every day.
> >
> > I'd like to hear how it is for others....
> Hum. Hum.. "pay for learning". "Learning"?
> Clearly, there's something that we humans do better than any of our fellow
> creatures. Let's call that activity "learning". The paradigm example I
> always use is a child learning his native language. It's a paradigm in
> the sense that if that's not learning, then nothing is learning. It's a
> defining example. And all the other examples or instances we might cite
> will have to arrange themselves in relation to this paradigm.
> By that criterion, much of what we adults refer to as "learning" is only
> a _very_ distant cognate.
> "Pay for learning" is clearly a relation between two people (that is,
> that's the minimum that the concept logically requires).
> I have a bad feeling about where this is going. It looks to me like this:
> any activity that I don't, or won't, engage in without being paid (more or
> less literally) to do so by another person, can't possibly be called
> "learning". At least, not if the paradigm is appropriate.
> Oh, I don't mean to be holy-high-ground about it. Sure, there are lots of
> activities that are _sort_of_ like learning, that I can imagine getting
> paid for. Stuff that's not interesting enough for me to put my own
> initiative into without a little extra in the pay. But if I'm already
> immersed in what _is_ exciting about the job -- like a child learning a
> language -- then the paid learning is only a distraction from the real
> business at hand.
> I suppose if we gave the kid enough cookies we could train him to recite
> one word over and over and forget all that nonsense about sentences.
> Plato was convinced that the Sophists corrupted their own intelligence by
> taking money for teaching. I think there is an analogous possibility
> with regard to learning.
> Learning is a very personal series of transactions between me and the world.
> It's not really controllable.
> Of course the topic is difficult because the spectrum of activities is
> wide. From my paradigm at one extreme, to the unix manpages I consult
> daily without even thinking about it, to looking up somebody's phone
> number, dialing, and forgetting the number five minutes later.
> A great deal of the learning we do every day, all of us, is what I call
> 2nd or 3rd order learning. It's a little reflective activity that
> _completely_ interpenetrates with the daily grind. It diverts no effort,
> takes place in the interstices of our work.
> Some kinds of learning take time: some don't. You just finished reading
> about some of the feedback cycles in The Fifth Discipline; how much time
> does it take, the next day at work, to see them in operation? Is a day
> filled with insights _less_ productive, because of the "time" they consume,
> than a day without?
> --
> Regards
> Jim Michmerhuizen
> --------------------------------------------------- ---------------------
> . . . . . There are more different kinds of people in the world . . . . .
> . . ^ . . than there are people... . . . . .