Friday, May 1, 2009

The Material That's Not on the Final Exam

Sometimes I share some really important life lessons related to communication, public speaking, writing, or listening. Inevitably a student will ask, "Is that gonna be on the final?"

While this questions tempts my inner ogress to emerge and respond, I remember that it's just a product of their 13+ years of conditioning in that institution known as "school."

Here's an example from the Communicating at Work by Adler and Elmhorst textbook:

One method for giving every member's ideas an equal chance to be considered is the nominal group technique (NGT). (The method's name comes from the fact that, for much of this process, the participants are a group in name only, since they are working independently.)

That is the kind of material usually found on the final exam.

Now, could it be possible, that people who read this blog, attend meetings, and work for a living, are able to work effectively without knowing what nominal group technique is?

This example shows the limit of what a college education can do to really prepare a person for a productive and fulfilling life. It's also why I prefer to teach in workshops, where arbitrary academic regulations do not play a role.

One more thing about material that's not on the final exam. It's also stuff that may not be represented in your annual evaluation -- consider how have you already made the planet a better place.

- People you've helped in one way or another.

- Trash you picked up that wasn't yours.

- Contributions of time or treasure to important causes.

- Encouragement to others.

- Art created by you, or your children.

- The times you've made people laugh.

- The really important knowledge you've shared.

- The meals you've shared.

As you know, the best is what's not on the final exam. Don't let other people's rules and regulations shrink you.