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  • Matthew Hora

Enlightening encounter at a big pharma company

Had a great meeting today at a large company that makes traditional Chinese medicine herbal remedies. After a wonderful tour of the company "culture center" where a cheery young lady gave a talk about the company's history and it being a positive and supportive place to work, I was led to a large boardroom with leather chairs, tea and water set out for the guests (me, an interpreter, and an Assoc Dean), and the hosts (HR, Manufacturing supervisor, 3 graduates from the college I'm staying at, and 2 mysterious young ladies who took verbatim notes of the entire thing.....), and we had a nice conversation.

The enlightening part came when I asked the students about whether it was different to study for the company training program, which is rather rigorous and looks like a lifelong learning system par excellence, from how they studied in school. The students, very reserved and shy up to that point, started smiling, and one immediately talked about how she really enjoyed preparing for the workplace certifications because it was easy to remember things. Why? "Because here they teach us the theory and then immediately have us apply it to things we do at work - it's easy to remember things, to learn things, not like at school, where its all about memorizing this and that, and no opportunity to apply what we're learning."

I had to suppress my own laughter, and then told her that she had neatly summarized a few decades of learning science findings and theory, and the gist of much educational reform happening in the West. Upon hearing that translated, the entire room broke out in laughter, even the Assoc. Dean, much to my relief.

(photo of Lee Shizhen, father of traditional Chinese medicine).

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