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A Late Night Reflection On Learning

Ruma Parvin reflects on her personal experiences with health, wellbeing, the pressures of working life and the power of learning. A truly inspirational blog, this will encourage anyone working in the adult learning sector to appreciate learning and adult education as a force for good. 

Post-it notes with positive affirmations

by Ruma Parvin


Albert Einstein said “once you stop learning, you start dying”.


These words have never felt more real, until I started dying, at my workplace. The ‘feeling’ of death lingered well before I surrendered to coma. In all fairness, the coma was exacerbated from partially neglected areas of my wellbeing (physical, social, emotional, spiritual and mental), which no doubtedly my (then) career contributed towards. The only way to revive my soul, I felt, was through learning again.  

Humans making up the outline of a human ear
However, the learning had to be different. I spent much of 2 years learning to unlearn what I learnt, in order to learn again. It took me almost that amount of time to learn how to sleep. Whilst in a long-term relationship with depression (bound by loyalty), I sought to find answers that would help my recovery, in all 5 areas of my wellbeing. I attended numerous workshops, activities, programmes, coaching etc that guided me to rebuild myself, whilst creatively working through my grievances, most of which I am still working on. I give myself a pleasant amount of time to learn, implement and simply BE. But more importantly, to heal. 


Healing is a process that one must learn. Every one of us is going through some difficulties or will do (good luck mate). Some of us inflict pain on one another at work (stop that nonsense). Healing doesn’t just happen with time. It requires input. It requires learning and training to listen differently. Learning to recondition or reprogramme our brains from the negativity. Learning to remember, recall and retain information. Learning to think for oneself and have a voice. Learning to be creative or innovative. Learning to solve problems. Learning to forgive ourselves and others. If lost, Jim Kwik can help you to release your superbrain so you can get on with what’s really important in your learning. Learning to move forward (in my opinion). 


We all want to move forward. When we are unable to move forward, our brains will be snoozing at work, unless we are teaching, in which case we are still learning, with each experience. It makes no sense for companies to let their employees die this awful death. Learning not only benefits individuals and businesses, it can also have a positive impact on the lives of those closest to them (eg family, friends, pets etc), and ultimately the communities they live in. The happier staff are at their jobs, the more successful the company will be. Have you seen how Facebook treat their staff? You’ll leave feeling inspired, if not by their training opportunities, then for sure by their food supply. Statistics show more than 40% of people are miserable at their jobs. Investing in the learning and growth of EVERYONE in the company should be a must, that’s including the domestic staff and all the people you have failed to learn the names of. 


Well, that's until robots replace us... 


Cogs with the words 'obstacle' and 'opportunity'

Yet even when robots replace us, we will continue to see discrimination in places of learning, after all they are programmed by humans. I repeatedly witness the unfairness in the opportunities given to people, and I’ve come to accept the bitter truth that it is not what you know, rather, it is who you know. Luckily for me, I know God. 


It is always my faith in God that pulls me through the most difficult of times. For some of us, the fight for learning (and paid) opportunities or progression is more of a challenge. Some of us have to work 3 to 10 times harder to even be acknowledged. This could be due to our gender, age, ethnicity, religion, appearance, disability and many other barriers. It would be naive of me to say discrimination doesn’t exist when it's something that many of us experience day in and day out, and perhaps do ourselves.  


But does that mean we should give up our desire to learn? No, let’s fight to keep our brain awake! Let’s transfer the information we receive into knowledge, and implement the good. Let us continue in INVESTING in ourselves, for I passionately believe Loreal when they say 


“YOU are worth it!”


Barrier to progression




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