You're already a winner!

If you're not already a winner in the informal learning game, you're a loser, a lacker or a slacker. If I picture you as a winner, you're chances of acting like a winner are improved. If it appears to me you're failing to learn informally, you're chances are diminished. Likewise, my seeing you as lacking what it takes to learn informally or not trying hard enough to do it competently interferes with informal learning occurring naturally. The flow will be inhibited.

Perhaps you didn't know you're playing the informal learning game. The prize is knowing things without getting taught them. The game begins when you think you cannot know something unless you were taught it. The stuff you learned on your own do not count. You depend on formal instruction to learn everything. You make progress in the game when you notice how much you know that you taught yourself. You win when you realize the only way you could know anything is to have incorporated it into your "idiosyncratic mental model". If you didn't mess with it's meaning, use, or connections to other insights, you spaced it out. If you can recall it, you took it from where you got it and made it into your own understanding: informally, uniquely, usefully.

George Siemens (and originally, Peter Henschel) has said:

"Informal learning is too important to leave to chance"

I agree. So we better leave it to something else. How about replication? If we leave informal learning to a thriving ecosystem as George explores, it will reproduce naturally. Informal learning will feed on other learning in the habitat. Your informal learning will mate with other's learning and produce offspring. Those new ideas, skills, and frames of reference that survive will be the fittest. The ways you know it, use it, or combine it will be more adaptable than other ways of knowing in your changing environment.

So how do we make that change from "leaving it to chance" to "leaving it to replication"? I suggest: "you're already a winner!" -- you're not a loser. You've already got what it takes -- you're not a "lacker". You're already doing enough for it to occur naturally in your blog reader, your own blogging, and your mind -- you're not a slacker.

Perhaps you're ideas about "informal learning" can mate with the idea you're already winner and with the premise that it happens by replication. No losers, lackers or slackers could come of that breeding. The flow might even be accelerated.

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  1. I don't mean to be picky, but the "leaving learning to chance" meme predates Tony, George, and me.

    In Informal Learning, the Other 80% (2003), I wrote, "Several years ago the late Peter Henschel, then director of the Institute for Research on Learning, raised the important question on this. If three-quarters of learning in corporations is informal, can we afford to leave it to chance?"

    I heard this from Peter in 2001.

  2. Jay
    I don't think you're being picky. You're being accurate. Correct attribution is an essential ingredient of the Creative Commons Licence approach functioning as it's intended. You're modeling desired behavior. Thanks for leading where I was misleading.