One great thing about striving to learn at least one something every week is that one never knows where the next nugget of inspiration will come from.
For me, this week’s was found at the bottom of a box that contained my weekly P&A grocery order. Underneath the mounds of fresh vegetables, boxes of Quaker Oat Squares, bag of Spanish peanuts and cartons of Tropicana grapefruit juice was a padded liner (you can see it above) on which the following tidbit was printed:
Apple and Pear Merchandising:
*75% of apple purchases are planned
*54 % of pear purchases are unplanned
For some reason, I found this fascinating, and wondered why the wide difference in predetermination. Was it because apples have entered our modern-day lexicon in such a dominant fashion (everything from Apple computers to The Beatles’ Apple Records to the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”)? Are pears considered more exotic, or an acquired taste, like bourbon or oysters? Did it have to do with the color and/or shape of the respective fruits and their subsequent appeal to the buying public?
Luckily, there was a call to action link:
“learn more at SUPERFRESHGROWERS.COM”
So I went there to do just that.
And was sadly disappointed.
The site is indeed colorful, and if you look hard enough, will hint at why apples may give you more energy than a cup of coffee. But nowhere does it explain why they are more deliberately purchased than those impulsive pears (even in December, which was National Pear Month…and which shows you just how very deep I dug!).
I had to drill down the Internet a bit more, to a January 2009 research paper from the Washington State University School of Economic Sciences to find out that:
“Fresh pears are one of the most popular fruits consumed in the U.S. Yet, annual per capita consumption is by far lower than bananas, melons, and apples, the top three.
"Indeed, pears are ranked ninth in annual per capita consumption out of a list of 23 fruits listed by the Economic Research Service – USDA (2009).”
Ninth? Ninth! No surprise they’re purchased on a whim! And I wonder what the percentage of planned banana buys are?
Now the point here isn’t about apples or pears, or even bananas; it’s about information and learning. While the two can be intertwined, they are not so automatically. In other words…
Information does not
it is the raw material,
the catalyst to it.
The relationship between information and learning can be likened to the ingredients of a recipe. While alone they may be very delicious, only when used in the proper combination and via the optimum process do they culminate into a complete dish that can be considered gourmet.
I noticed this connection—or lack thereof—at last month’s C2MTL creative conference. There were some amazingly bright people presenting, and nearly every one of them flooded heads with information. But the truly successful speakers were those who added relevance to their info with stories, passion, visuals or other “mind hooks” that people could personally relate to. Those who did turned benign listeners into active learners; an important and profound difference when you’re at a conference.
Information without relevance
is incomplete; it’s merely
words and/or numbers.
But to many, and unfortunately, that seems to be enough. I come across this so very often. People tell me about a book they read, or a course they took, or a TED talk they watched, and exclaim: “I learned so much!”
My response is usually: “So tell me, what was the most important lesson for you?”
Their response is usually: “Uh…”
This can lead me down the rabbit hole of many of my favorite diatribes, most notably my rant against “memorize and regurgitate by rote” education. But the reason why I think it’s so urgent to distinguish between information and learning, and apply the right degree of enthusiasm and context to the former to convert it into a relatable latter, is because of the coming Big Data boom.
Well, never mind “coming”; with the proliferation of data flying at us so fast and in so many ways, I suppose it’s already here. Whether or not it all has “meaning” will depend on the way it is processed…which brings us back to the food analogy. Will data just be tossed haphazardly into a blender, resulting in an informational smoothie? Or will it be carefully crafted into memorable significance?
While I don’t have the answer, at least I hope to have provided some—pardon the pun—food for thought.
In the meantime, I think I’ll head back to the supermarket.
And buy a basket of peaches.