[EAS]Charles Handy Lessons

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Apr 3 22:32:10 EST 2002

Subject:   Charles Handy Lessons

As one of my favorite authors on education, economics and
organizations, Charles Handy has figured in these mailings before,
e.g. <http://www.yale.edu/engineering/eng-info/msg00557.html>. This is
certainly another book of his I look forward to reading.  --PJK

(from NewsScan Daily, 3 April 2002)

      In a charming new memoir called "The Elephant and the Flea:
Memoirs  of a Reluctant Capitalist," Charles Handy recalls this about
his early  schooling:
      "I have often said that I remembered only one thing from my 
schooldays, the implicit message that all problems in the world had
already  been solved, that the answers were to be found in the head of
the teacher  or, more likely, at the back of his textbook; my task
being to transfer  those answers to my head. When I joined my
corporation I assumed that it  was the same; my superiors, or some
consultant, would know the answer. It  was a shock to realize that I
was supposed to come up with my own solutions  and that many problems
were to do with relationships, where there was no  textbook answer. It
is better now in most schools, but not much, and I have  thoughts for
the way it needs to change. But learning does not finish with  our
schooldays. We should be grateful, because later learning is much more
      "I have learnt more from art galleries, theatres, cinemas and
concert  halls than I ever did from textbooks. Travel too, the chance
to dwell for a  time in other cultures, provides a different lens
through which to view  one's own world, to question things whose very
familiarity have rendered  them, almost invisible to us. America,
India, and Italy, three very  different cultures, have each taught me
a lot. 'Life is for lunch' they say  in Tuscany, but they still manage
to work productively as well as live  convivially, combining leisure
and work in a way that eludes other  cultures. America, that land of
the free, taught me that the future is  something to be welcomed
because it can be shaped by us, while India's  Kerala state
demonstrated to me how a combination of socialism and  capitalism,
properly directed, can transform poverty into prosperity.
      "Most important of all, however, was the lesson that I learnt
from  the study of people who create something in their lives out of
nothing --  we termed them alchemists. They proved to me that you can
learn anything if  you really want to. Passion was what drove these
people, passion for their  product or their cause. If you care enough
you will find out what you need  to know and chase the source of the
knowledge or the skill. Or you will  experiment and not worry if the
experiment goes wrong. The alchemists never  spoke of failures or
mistakes but only of learning experiments. Passion as  the secret of
learning is an odd solution to propose, but I believe that it  works
at all levels and all ages. Sadly, passion is not a work often heard 
in large organizations, nor in schools, where it can seem disruptive."

See http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1578518229/newsscancom/ for 
Charles Handy's "The Elephant and the Flea: Reflections of a Reluctant 
Capitalist" -- or look for it in your favorite library. (We donate all 
revenue from our book recommendations to adult literacy action programs.)

More information about the EAS-INFO mailing list