Considering Vella; the Influence Educational Awareness May Have on a Culture

While some of this post is a copy from the post for my other class, I wanted to change the tone only slightly and share the content/thoughts with my Organizational Learning associates as well.  As I read the text for my Design and Delivery class, How Do They Know They Know by Jane Vella, Paula Berardinelli and Jim Burrow, I couldn’t help but pause on a statement found on page 32, “additional improvements can be made by paying attention to the daily work environment of the learners and the personal characteristics and motivation of the leaders.”

I considered this quote from the perspective of my chosen topic for the project in the class.  The topic is an offering that I have already created and conducted several times in my workplace. It’s a popular topic and one that many continue to request, but I can’t always guarantee that the empowerment or motivation that I sense as they leave the classroom continues once they return to an environment that has not had the enlightenment or feeling of inspiration to change as they have. Without any real way to evaluate whether that motivation continues or whether the learning opportunity has really created a change in behavior, it leaves me to assume that the session has made a difference.

But instead of assuming, I’d like to really know. I’d like to create an opportunity to discover just how much of an impact the session really made and, if any, obstacles they may have encountered when they went back to ‘the real world’. I’d like to really consider the impact that their daily work environment has or may have had on their learning. While the topic that I facilitate is not necessarily life changing, nor is it rocket science; I’d like to think that creating awareness in a few people about how they can establish and maintain better relationships in the workplace can impact more than just that person. I’d like to think that it can begin to also build a better culture, create a better environment to work in and, ultimately, create a better organization for employees and the patients that we serve. For a smile can certainly brighten someones day, a caring heart can create the feeling of warmth that is so desperately needed in our darkest hour, and a helping hand can be the strength that we need on our toughest day. From a higher level, these things can also create the culture that empowers us to do well in our workplace, motivates us to go the extra mile and inspires us to be the team player that contributes to the team’s (departmental and organizational) overall success.

So while I paused to consider whether or not what I have decided on is reminiscent of what Vella described in the referenced quote, I’d like to also ask my classmates from Organizational Learning if they agree that such a creation of awareness has the potential to impact something as tremendous as an entire organizational culture?  Considering what we’ve discussed thus far and tapping into our recent readings from Schein, can education truly impact or influence culture?  Can organizational learning really begin with the awareness of a few if it creates a movement of many?


About hdjackson

Graduate Student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying the theoretical world of Adult Learning along with its relation to Human Resources Developement. View all posts by hdjackson

3 responses to “Considering Vella; the Influence Educational Awareness May Have on a Culture

  • lsniestrath

    You’ve asked a very important question for which I do not have a definitive “helpful” response. In the Adlt 601 class we were asked to react to the topics discussed in class. Do you remember the lesson regarding “microaggressions?” Your topic regarding lateral violence has a strong relationship to the two. Perhaps if the participants were given a prompt that might be a future scenario that’s sent as part of an electronic survey that might be useful. Or perhaps if a challenge was presented in terms of a “Pay it forward” challenge in terms of how and when participants utilized the skills with others in the workplace could be utilized? It’s difficult to gauge the impact that your program will make in one’s future. Every once in awhile a former student stops and tells me about a class lesson or a learning situation that he encountered when what we learned together as students was evidenced in other areas in life. When this occurs, it’s certainly reminds me that the rewards of teaching are without number! I’d be interested in hearing what you decided to do in the end.

  • Irene Lubker

    Holly, this is such a warm posting;-) When I first read it over the break, I was overcome with emotion. You did a good thing! I am sure your session made a difference. I have attended similar sessions in the past and I always come out thinking of how I can make changes at home and at work and also influence everybody else around me to be more aware of others and in the the process change a culture. As difficult as it is to look into the future and see if your program actually changed people because it is hard to follow the participants, I am convinced that it actually changed some people. Could you send the participants a follow-up survey to see how they are doing? You could also have another session and ask them follow-up questions in person. I believe that education can influence a culture because sometimes people act in ways that may not be wholly desirable simply because they are unaware. One they become aware, then they change and also try to influence others. I think this is the premise for trying to educate girls in third world countries because women have a large influence on their children (and families) starting from birth. So once the woman is educated, she is bound to pass her knowledge to the child and the more women are educated, the more people get to share the knowledge so eventually changing a whole culture.

    • hdjackson

      What an awesome response Irene! I am actually working to break the class into two parts to allow for a follow up and reflection of sorts on how the inspiration they felt continued (or not) after the first session. I’m hoping that it proves to continue the learning, and maybe even further solidify it:) I also so agree with the influence that a mother can have on her child. As one myself, I often find myself realizing that my children pick up many of their opinions, decision making skills, etc. from my husband and I (sometimes the good with the bad). Awareness of the educator, whether educating with intention or not, can prove so beneficial. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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