A number of things have prompted this blog: Various articles I’m seeing (particularly on LinkedIn) and my recent visit to Rome. Let’s talk about Rome. We had three full days at our disposal so had to choose how best to spend our time.
My husband and I have been before, around 20 years ago, so we knew what was worth revisiting with young teenagers in tow, and what wasn’t. As such we had 2 full days all sorted, and a final day to decide what to do with at the time.
On day 1 we saw the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, St Peter’s Basilica and went around the Vatican Museums. We’d allowed ourselves 3 hours for this (based on past experience) and it proved to be ideal. We saw all the bits we wanted to see and had time to listen to the detailed information about the rooms that caught our attention and took all the photos we wanted, as well as sitting in the sun for a 15 minute (much needed) break. Clearly, some people had a lot less time… many tourists practically running past us to get to the Sistene Chapel in the shortest time possible (and no doubt gutted to find that you couldn’t take photos and selfies when they got there).
Day 2, we did the Colossium and Roman Forum. We found ourselves a local guide, who wasn’t brilliant, but nevertheless told us things we wouldn’t have known otherwise. About half of our group left the tour early saying that they wanted to go around faster and take more pictures. We stayed with him and learned about Roman engineering, earthquakes and the toilet arrangements!
On day 3 we wandered slowly around the side streets and to the less popular sights. We stopped to listen to busking opera singers in Piazza di Popoli, we fed the pigeons in a park, we had a picnic, ate ice-cream, drank coffee and watched the world go by, noticing the different characters and conversations around us. We saw a shop keeper take a delivery, watched a man making spaghetti, and a group of Africans on a peaceful rally. We noticed how a street hawker took a half-hour lunch break and phoned his family, and saw a man playing violin in red stilettos.
Whilst the main sights were impressive, and I definitely don’t regret going to any of them, I think I enjoyed the last day the most. The day where we were able to go with the flow and get more of a sense of what Rome is really like. Those people rushing through the Vatican museum missed so much in their need to see the Sistene Chapel. Treasures were everywhere, and often on the ceiling!! The people who left the Colosseum tour early may have more pictures (and possibly better ones), but they won’t be able to tell the stories BEHIND the pictures.
It may be that these people only had a day, and in that case, I don’t blame them for taking the approach they did. When time is limited, you have to focus on two or three big sights… but whilst you have been there and have the selfie to prove it, you don’t remember what it felt like, what it sounded and smelled like. You can only EXPERIENCE these things if you take your time.
Which brings me (finally) to the link with learning. Quick hits are great if they meet your objective (i.e. get the photo). Of course googling how to clean the filter on my tumble drier or how to create an infographic is the best thing to do: It gives me what I need to complete a one-off task. I don’t need to buy into it, I don’t need to remember it, I don’t need to adapt my behaviour. Completing a lengthy programme or attending a workshop would be daft.
But if we want to absorb something, to notice the nuances, to engage and remember and (ultimately) change our behaviour, we need to slow down, take our time and have the flexibility to go a little off the beaten track to explore what captures our attention and take time to truly soak things up.
Slow learning isn’t always necessary – we don’t always need to be transformed. Fast learning isn’t always good – because sometimes we DO need to be transformed! As L&D professionals, we need to offer training at a range of paces, and be able to change pace, to meet the dual demands of agility and embedding.