“Look what a lot of things there are to learn”

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puf and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling…you may miss your only love… or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” Merlin, in The Sword in the Stone by T H White These wonderful words from Merlin, a powerful wizard in English mythology, remind us that we can learn at any time, and this learning can bring us joy, and can never be taken from us. These are strange times, and we can’t do everything we’d planned for the year. What do we do? Feel bad and get frustrated? Maybe for a bit. That gets boring after a while, and so, we are using the lockdown as a chance to strengthen our core. To work on the things we don’t usually get time for. To test new ideas. To learn new things. To experiment. And that’s been fun, and somewhat daunting, Our entire team is work with Sanjaya Sahb to learn how the Shainin technique can help us reduce variability and improve our processes. For many of us, it’s our first encounter with maths in ten to fifteen years. And that’s tricky! But we’ve gone back, looked at videos from Khan Academy and helped each other remember what the mean, median and mode are. And we’re slowly getting to grips with the idea of “multi-vari” and “green Y”s. It isn’t always easy, and because we’re doing it virtually, it’s hard to tell when someone’s confused. We’ve worked out a way of running polls through the session to keep everyone on track. Nothing can stop a team that wants to learn 😀 Alongside this very structured and “taught” learning, we’re also reading together. Each week, someone shares an article, and those who are interested get together and share their views. Last week, we looked at how the western media is presenting our government’s response to this crisis. The discussion was wide-ranging; should media be regulated, and if so how, how can we decide what should and shouldn’t be believed, who has a right to make judgements, is the Arogya Setu app a worrying sign for digital privacy.
There weren’t many answers, but we had something more powerful. A deep, open discussion where we could disagree and still stay open to questions. None of these discussions relate to our work directly, but, as Steve Jobs said in his powerful commencement speech; no learning is wasted as you cannot connect the dots looking forwards! We invite you to look for ways and things to learn; could be a new skill, maybe a book to read or some podcasts to listen to. Even better find someone to learn with! Make it a way to connect and share your experiences with us.