Jan 26, 2009

Inside the Knowledge Generation Brain

Lifelong learning is a known characteristic of Generation Y, manifested in business as a persistent thirst for a challenge and a demand for continuous training and development.  Surprisingly, the cause of this approach to learning is not often discussed in popular blogs and literature.

Earlier this week I attended one of the RSA’s lectures, which explored the Science of Lifelong Learning. According to speaker Usha Goswami, Director for the Neuroscience in Education at Cambridge University, the brain is like a bank and investment from an early age can significantly increase learning ability later in life. She argued that babies brought up in a supportive environment are positively affected in terms of learning capacity and complexity.

Indeed, Generation Y is known by Strausse & Howe (2000) as the most watched and protected generation[1], where ‘helicopter’ parents packed their children’s lives with a myriad of learning-based hobbies, such as musical instruments, sports and extra-curricular school activities. Technological advances, such as the internet, have further increased this ability and desire for learning.

Now eager Generation Y has entered the workplace, expecting the same level of mental simulation from its employer. This can be highly beneficial to the alert employer, as when provided with a supportive environment, this population of young workers can be highly efficient and creative problems-solvers and aggregators of information in what we call ‘online knowledge ecosystems’ - thereby helping to reduce costs in the downturn and increase participation, ownership and innovation in the next boom.

‘The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled’
- Plutarch 

[1] Strausse & Howe (2000), Millenials Rising. Pg9

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