This is from a conversation I had with my father on Sunday. I mentioned a book I was reading that included a story about a student who "outsourced" his college writing assignment. Some man in India took him up on the offer and was paid 60 pounds to write the paper. The Indian said it took him about three hours to research and write the paper. I'm sure the student was thrilled to avoid the work, but I pointed out to my father that this Indian was basically paid to learn.
And we wonder why other countries are doing better than the United States in test scores.
If I could say one thing to young people everywhere - it would be this: Never outsource your learning and always take advantage of learning opportunities wherever you can find them, especially on the job. (Okay, that was two things.)
I love to learn new things. First, I'm just curious and enjoy immensely discovering the "why" of life. Secondly, new knowledge expands my horizons and allows me to interact with people who'd otherwise would be inaccessible. And thirdly - it adds to my creative capital. I'm a much more valuable employee if I have a wide and deep skill set than if I only knew a little about not much.
Case in point: When I was in my mid-twenties, I decided to enroll in the infamous "Connecticut School of Broadcasting." I learned how to edit tape, how to interview people, and how to quickly turn around a story into a manageable sound bites. My intent at that time was to eventually become a radio news host. However, once I found out I'd probably have to move to some small rural town and hold down three different jobs while I worked at their radio station, I suddenly didn't want it that badly. I liked my hometown and didn't want to sacrifice that much in order to make it in radio news.
But, I thought, someday I felt my experience would come in handy. I wasn't sure how, but I had complete confidence it would come into play. Fast forward twenty years later and here I am, fooling around with podcasting and soundtracks in my new job. I get to learn more as I've have an Apple Mac at work, my first time working with one. My boss has bought books for me to learn not only the Mac programs, but also WordPress since that's our blog provider. I feel very blessed because like the Indian who wrote a student's paper, I am getting paid to learn. Who knows how that knowledge will be used in the future?
It stunned me when a year ago, I read an article that said some U.S. companies were outsourcing their R&D. Outrageous! I can understand outsourcing maintenance, but a company's research and development of the product or service? It's just plain shameful. If a company doesn't have the commitment to figure out on their own what they're going to provide the public, then they have no business being in business. Business is a transaction of trust. I trust a company to figure out my problems and provide an efficient and economical solution. They are building a relationship with me and if all goes well, they'll have a customer for life.
But if they really don't care enough to take the temperature of their market on their own, then they don't need my business. I work hard enough for my money and the older I get, the less I enjoy being used.
So, that's my two cents on learning, and ignorant business ideas. Nothing Catholic about it but I bet St. Benedict would agree with me.