by Nick O’Shiel, Omagh Enterprise
It was only in the 1800’s that the standard of living for many people began to improve with any degree of significance. Until then the food people ate, the houses they lived in and the clothes they wore were concerned with survival. It was only the rich that could afford luxuries.
From the late 1900’s onwards a better standard of living was enjoyed by greater numbers of people in Europe and the United States. And in the twentieth century, it spread to people in Australia and large parts of Asia.
The effect of such improvements was significant, as people began to spend less time and less of their income on basic items and more on leisure and the pursuit of pleasure.
Many reasons (capital investment, technological investment, higher productivity) are given for the progress made during the period but one key element was the level and rate of learning that took place.
The ability of entrepreneurs and businesses to learn to do things faster, better and more efficiently was instrumental in improving the lives of families and communities.
The growth of accelerated learning increased levels of investment, technical know-how and innovation and was an important driver of economic and business growth.
Learning didn’t happen in isolation, as a range of business, charitable, education, government, voluntary and support organisations contributed to the process.
Even though it spread across many areas and improved the lives and living standards of people from all backgrounds, learning didn’t happened uniformly or to everyone.
The ability to learn and learn quickly continues to be an important ingredient in any successful society, not least to ensure the inclusion and engagement of everyone.
Technology and innovation help improve living standards but the ability to learn and the speed at which we learn has the greatest impact and makes the biggest difference.
Similarly, our ability to share and spread what we know to ensure learning takes place across all sectors of society will determine our individual and collective futures.
Many factors have influenced the economic progress made in recent centuries but there is little doubt that a key factor has been our desire to learn.
SO, if learning plays such an important role in the success we enjoy is it time to revisit and reinvent how we do it?