Why do we learn?

I thought I would try and give a little bit of insight into why we learn. I don't mean the physical bits, of synapses joining together to form memories which can be accessed at any time. No, I mean the actual motivating factors which get us up off our seats and into a classroom. There are many reasons why we do this, and I will only cover a few in this blog. I will also try and fit a type of learning to each motivation.

Why do we learn?


In the civilised world, we don’t have a choice in whether we go to school, or be homeschooled so I am not going to spend time covering this. I am more interested in when we have a choice to learn or don’t learn, so we begin a little later in life when we are gainfully employed.

Employee Placements.

A lot of companies in this day and age, offer employee placements and this normally comes in the form of the employee doing day release at a University or College to gain some form of qualification which should be related to their job. I am all for this, but again do many people have a choice in this, especially in the case of apprenticeships where this will be a stipulation rather than an option. If you get the chance of having this option, grab it with both hands. You are being paid to learn which is Nirvana in my mind.

Wanting new employment.

I have been told that sometimes people don't stay at the same company for 25 years as I have. So, if you are looking for a new job, do you have all of the necessary qualifications to even get to the interview stage? This is probably the hardest of all the motivating factors I will go through. You look at the job descriptions and realise that you are not even close to getting to an interview, so what do you do? You must weigh up if you want to pay for a course on your own, so you get the qualifications that make your CV pass inspection. It is a gamble and quite a big gamble at that. You need to think about your happiness and your future.

Is your current job so unbearable that you want to open your wallet? Realistically speaking though, unless you are wanting a complete career change i.e Mechanical Engineer to Cake Decorator I'm not sure that it's that necessary. You have fallen into a vicious circle that is the whole point of this article, your current role does not provide you with continuous learning, so you don’t have the skills to help you get another job. Why don’t you look at it like this, would you be happier in your current role if you got some training Research shows that employees are much more content in their jobs if they get trained year after year, it also shows that the employer values you. Ask for some training, good companies will want you to do it.

This reminds me of a story, I recently trained an engineering company that was getting hit on productivity, no one was innovating and basically, they were doing things the same way for the last 20 years. In a management meeting the subject of CAD training was raised, and it would cost £20,000 for all employees to get some training that they desperately needed. The Financial Director asked the question "What happens if we spend all this money on CAD training, and all of the staff armed with new skills get up and find another job". The Engineering Director's response was.

"What happens if we don't train all of these people and they stay"

Your employer sends you on a training course

There are two different ways you can look at this, and which one you choose all depends on your outlook on life.

  1. My employer values the work that I do and recognises that my skills need updating for me to maintain the best productivity, they are willing to spend money on me to help me achieve this.
  2. My employer thinks I am not very good at my job, and thinks I need to get some training, so I am not just taking desk space, but I can contribute to the company.

What is my answer to this? am I a pessimist or an optimist? Do you know what? it doesn’t matter which answer reflects your thoughts. The result is the same, you get some training. However, the answer to the above question will have a huge effect on how much you will learn on the course.

If you attend the training, which your company has spent money on, with a defeatist attitude, then know you probably won’t get much from the course. I have always maintained that I can teach anyone, young or old with an intelligence level of either not so bright or extremely smart, a good teacher can teach them all.

The one subset of people that I do struggle with is those people who think they know everything. Fortunately, I get very few of these types of people on my courses, and inevitably these types of people have just been sent on a course.

If your answer to the above statement was number 1, then you may get away with online learning, as you will be motivated to take the time and use the online resources for you to get more productive, you would, however, gain more from attending some classroom training, as the teacher should be able to pitch the training to your level, and also tailor the course to put into perspective for your job. If your answer was number 2, then that is most definitely a classroom course. Someone who is not motivated to attend a course will not spend the time to learn from an online resource. They will always be too busy.

Remember every day is a school day!

If you would like to learn more about training at Symetri then please visit our website https://www.symetri.co.uk/training/