Of late, I’ve been thinking a great deal on how people learn – how they “stay current” in their profession, to resurrect a buzzword from longer ago than I wish to recall. That got me thinking.
What have people done to learn something recently?
Let me see if I can explain where part of this thought developed from.
In the “Liturgical Year” I am writing this in the Second Week of Advent – the time of religious and spiritual preparation for Christmas. The Sermon/Homily this last Sunday was one that featured a note of irony. The gist of it was that Advent, the season of preparation, is one of waiting. People get ready for something they know is coming, but are not sure when it will actually come. The priest’s point was that in an era when Christmas music starts on the radio and in shopping malls a day or two after Hallowe’en, when society is rushing toward a fixed date, the Church is asking people to pause and consider what may be coming.
On top of this, a few years ago, before the previous pastor retired, he gave a sermon about this same time of year. He stood in the middle of the church, the main aisle, and pointed at the stained glass windows that ran the length of the church – both sides. They really are lovely to look at.
Anyway, the pastor made a comment that many people’s idea around matters of faith are those of a small child – the same basic things one learns in school, maybe age 7 or 8. People like the idea of Christmas and the child in the manger and the shepherds and the lights and tinsel and what-not. But they don’t like the “opposite bookend” as the pastor described it. They don’t like the story of that same child beaten, flogged and executed in a manner that boggles the mind of most people in this day and age.
As he was talking about this – he pointed to two windows. One, on his right, depicted the Christmas story. The other, on his left, exactly opposite the first, depicted Good Friday – the death of the same baby. His statement was simple. We can’t accept the simple, childhood story without looking at the hard truth that accompanies it.
As mature adults, we need to step beyond the things we “learned” early on – either as children in school or as fledgling software professionals.
When was the last time we challenged our own beliefs and presumptions? When was the last time we critically considered what we were about? Have we become complacent?
Are we still operating based on our childhood understandings? Are we still operating on things we learned years ago and have not thought about? Are we passing on this same “wisdom” to people without a deeper understanding?
Should we simply accept the pronouncements of people whose learning and understanding stopped when they were 7 or 8 years of age? What about “professionals” whose learning stopped 10 or 15 years ago? How about 25 years ago?