Education – Learning – SlackTime

How do education, learning and slacktime relate? From what I’ve experienced in the past week, I’ll try to draw a picture on how slacktime could open a world of learning, beyond education.


A moving moment has been last week, when I had lunch by myself in the crowded canteen and I heard a young man talk to a group of Siemens employees:

„After three years of bachelor’s degree for electric engineering I don’t feel any more valuable for my employer than before.“

While his group tried convincing, that he is underestimating his value and it would only feel that way sometimes etc., I instantly felt many synapses in my brain activate. This sentence so much reminded me of how I felt after and during my university career.

By coincidence the day before I’ve had a deep conversation with a former fellow student (now leading an R&D group at Framatome), who brought up a memorable situation: Starting one of the first lessons for electric engineering our professor (must have been in 2002 or so) asked us to have a close look to our neighbors left and right, because most of them wouldn’t make it to graduate here. I think I never really understood, what this scene did to us, up to this week, when I brought it into the picture of my today’s experience. It was clear, that we were supposed to prepare for a tough time to come up for ourselves. If we really want to graduate here, we better limit our lives to intense „learning“ = listening, reading and practicing. Practicing what? Whatever teachers tell us to practice.


From a book of my wife, laying around in our home, I read a little bit about André Stern, a famous role model with regards to learning and education, son of Arno Stern, remarkable scientist in the same field. Soon I ended up on his Twitter account and found an interesting interview. Asked, where his self-consciousness would have come from as a child, his answer was „My self-consciousness didn’t come from nowhere, it has just never been taken from me“. Further Andre Stern explains, that

„.. children are born with the firm belief to be the right person at the right time and the right location.“

My youngest daughter (2 years) confirms that to me every day – she never questions herself. She acts and watches the result of her action. And she probably does a lot of learning by doing so, but she never questions herself as a personality.

Back to the scene in university: Isn’t it exactly one of these situations where self-consciousness is taken from students, when they’re told, basically most of them are wrong at this place? After years of exploring the world of my own learning, again one sentence of André Stern best hits the point of what in my eyes could be key to more successful learning environments :

„Learning is not something we can DO, instead it happens to us. It happens, when we play and have emotional experiences by doing so, because there is no learning without emotion.“

Wow, if that is true – and I am convinced it is – there is quite a revolution needed in our educational mindset, right?


That’s when Slacktime comes in. If most of us are not at the right place in university, and I believe this can be said about most trainings too, then shouldn’t we urgently offer room for more effective learning? Why not learn from the most successful learners in our society: Children are known to have the best learning efficiency – they learn faster than any adult. But that’s before we start teaching them. That’s when they’re „just playing“. That’s when they’re just playing with whatever appears important to them after observing the world around them.

How can that translate into corporate learning? I currently believe Slacktime could be the initial key to open the horizon and allow individual learning worlds to develop. Give people trust and an empty space in time – that’ll allow them to engage in the topics to give them emotional experiences = learnings. That’ll allow them to develop their individual competences or even find them back. Time is running out, where we could do a job for life, which we were prepared for as a student. If nothing else so far, digitalisation will require humans to develop, will require humans to involve their passions to what they are doing. Because only passions will make our value unique – unique value, that machines cannot compete in.

Further sources of inspiration on the topic – all highly recommend.

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