Family and lifelong learning: the lady who wrote history essays

cqu-graduation-address-dr-babington-15-sept-2016-sydney

If the practice of lifelong learning makes eminent good sense, how can we build up such a habit? This was the central question I posed in a recent graduation address for Central Queensland University.

My pro-education grandmother inspired me by her love of learning. Though she didn’t have much formal education, she always made a strong point of learning throughout her life; even up to her last years, she’d write essays on her beloved topic of Australian history for her own enjoyment, not for any particular audience.

In 2002, Harvard Business School Professors Heifetz and Linsky published a superb book called Leadership on the Line. They argued that one of the greatest traps for leaders is to keep doing things in traditional, ‘business-as-usual’ ways long after these technical approaches are clearly ineffective. Instead of old ways of thinking and doing, they say that leaders need to apply transformative or ‘adaptive’ responses. We need to get off the ‘dance floor’ of everyday life and get ourselves onto the balcony above to see how the dance is being performed.

Families―whatever form they take and however we define them―are our most time-honoured settings for giving and receiving love, understanding and nurturing.

So, how can we do better at getting onto the balcony of life and spotting new ways of doing things? For me, this is a skill that is best cultivated by being open to, and actively seeking out, formal and informal learning opportunities throughout life.

Very importantly, we can find support for this purposeful journey by relying on, and giving back to, our families, as well as our friends and supporters. After all, families―whatever form they take and however we define them―are our most time-honoured settings for giving and receiving love, understanding and nurturing. They, like our other supporters, want the best for us and we should reach out for their help when we need it. My full speech is here.

Dr Brian Babington

16 September 2016