Enjoy #NLAWDay / L&D False Dichotomy Day!

Today it’s the European elections. It’s also once again National Learning at Work Day in the UK, a day that all L&D professionals should warm to. But we don’t. Like the parties in the election, we’re divided and a bit miserable, with many involved wanting nothing to do with the whole affair.

[Yes, this pretty much a re-run of last  year’s post. I’ll keep saying the same thing each year until I think I’ve made my point.]

The Campaign for Learning explains its Learning at Work Day (#NLAWDay) like this:

Learning at Work Day ….  aims to draw attention to the importance of workplace learning and skills. It encourages people to offer learning to all employees especially to those that may not participate in current learning opportunities.

What’s not to like? Yet each year the L&D community uses this as an opportunity to engage in the false dichotomy game, otherwise known as the fallacy of false choice. Here are three:

You should be learning all year long not just on one day!

False choice: you can learn all year long and learn on one day. In fact, if you are learning all year long you have to learn on Learning at Work Day, don’t you?

We shouldn’t be concentrating on learning at work, we should be concentrating on technology/performance/mobile at work/[insert speaker’s hobby horse]

False choice: you can want both learning and technology/performance/mobile

We should have an [insert speaker’s hobby horse] Day instead!

Sigh. Guess what: you can have both. In fact you can have as many as you like (well, up to 365 in total). If really you want that day, go out and start it! Meanwhile, we already have Learning at Work Day. It’s today. Having to choose between your invented day and what’s happening today is a FALSE CHOICE.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

The thing is this: today we celebrate and promote L&D to those who don’t get it. By making a concerted effort together, we can have more effect. It doesn’t mean that we don’t try to promote learning the rest of the year (that would be a false dichotomy). It just means that today, for one, single day, we work together and as a result have more impact.

It’s a bit like the 39 parties going into the Euro elections. We have a choice: pull together or stand apart. We can have impact, or be seen as a bickering, internally-divided and irrelevant to the real world.

There is an alternative. We could just all agree that learning at work is a good thing, and a day that celebrates it has to be a good day too.

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2 responses to “Enjoy #NLAWDay / L&D False Dichotomy Day!

  1. I’ve dabbled in a bit of NLAW day criticism in the past, but this year I turned over a new leaf.

    The results have been frankly awesome. It proved to be a catalyst to get the whole L&D team working on something together. We redesigned and rebuilt our Love Learning SharePoint portal in a week. Now it looks modern and fresh, it’s well organised and it pulls together quality resources from all over the web. We’ve doubled the traffic to the site, increased the number of people using our Lynda.com library, introduced a bite sized learning campaign called Take10 (based on Julie Wedgwood’s Find 15) promoted learning opportunities in our site restaurants and briefed managers in extra meetings.

    This is all stuff we’ve been planning to do, all things we had up our sleeve, but there is no way we could have pulled it all together in such a short space of time without the motivation of a national deadline.

    It’s raised our profile and grabbed the attention of people across the business, now it’s up to us to follow up on “the leads” and keep the momentum going.

    I love learning at work week!

    • Sam – what a great comment! I love your note about the ‘the motivation of a national deadline’. Absolutely. And thanks for the reminder that Learning at Work Day is part of Learning at Work Week.

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