we’ve said many times before, our goal with LiNE Zine is to
chart for you the “whitespaces” related to learning in the New
Economy—the questions, issues, and themes that cut across the
traditional ways of thinking as the world changes around us.
This issue tries to put its arms around a big and messy whitespace—and
one that’s probably still sorting itself out. We’re calling
it “Integrating Learning, Working, and Life in the 21st
Century,” and if it seems a mouthful and mindful to you, welcome
to the club.
complexity of it all has to do with boundaries and convergences,
and indeed the increasing convergence of the convergences themselves.
How is anybody supposed to think about that?
we begin by asserting three convergences—three popular blurring
of boundaries everyone struggles with. First there is the much
talked about “work/life” balance—how to manage one’s personal
and familial affairs in an economy that demands massive commitment
of time, lots of travel, lots of hard work at any time, any
place. As work intrudes into our home lives, inevitably our
home lives intrude into work; do they still belong as distinct
spheres, and if not, what’s the new model that makes sense of
second boundary is in the heartland of much of what LiNE Zine
looks at: learning and work. For years now we’ve been hearing—and
preaching—that one can no longer separate doing one’s job and
learning how to do it. We live in a world now of continuous
learning, ongoing knowledge-based improvement and innovation,
and increasing just-in-time skill building. The old boundaries
between “working” and “training” are disappearing, and indeed
the boundaries between “training” and “learning” are also falling
away. As learning becomes more holistically integrated into
the workplace, we lack the language to both talk about them
as one and also as something separate.
third boundary and convergence is complementary to both, and
raises the stakes of complexity. Call it “lifelong learning”—the
idea that learning is now something that goes on beyond going
to school and university. The explosion includes adult education,
self-help, enrichment courses, knowledge-based hobbies, and
avocational pursuits (for example, think of the vast wisdom,
these days, of wine-making and drinking, or gardening). This
learning has been fueled by an evolving philosophy that knowing
more about things is more fulfilling and, indeed, the pleasurable
imperative of every human being who can afford to spend time
doing it. So time spent on learning, one’s family time, and
personal life is also a convergence that we 21st
century creatures nourish.
one were to represent these convergences graphically, it might
look like a swirling triangle—work blending over into personal
life, learning blending over into work, personal life blending
over into learning. It feels like there ought to be some rational
syllogism to structure them all, but the interconnected issues
and challenges defy rationality or linearity: start any discussion
on any of the topics, and you end up with more “swirl” than
we headed to lives and workplaces and learning processes that
are really all just parts of some new whole? Is the convergence
of convergences leading us to something still again different
and not yet known? Or is it simply the next phase of living
in progressively messier mental spaces? Or will one finally
trump the others—e.g., in the new new economy, will learning
finally subsume all?
the web pages that follow, we promise you no simple answers.
What we can promise you is a rich set of conversations, discussions,
and articles exploring different dimensions of the messy debate.
Have a look and let your own experiences add to some convergence