In certain countries, writing an essay on “Money or Knowledge” is a classic school activity. Sometimes the essay writing activity is so classic, it is dismissed as routine and is not paid as much attention as it deserves. Worst still, the question is ignored for later stages of life where the question actually becomes far more applicable.
This training exercise helps professionals to explore this subject once again, “Is it better to go for knowledge or for money?” Like all grand questions, the answer is far from trivial and you can have endless debates about the merits and pitfall of each direction. Nevertheless, the direction taken comes to define your individuality and will also explain a lot about your economic prosperity, your social and academic skills as well as your general knowledge about the world.
Delegates to write essays on “Money or Knowledge” and then share their views with each other.
- Ask the delegates to write an essay on, “Is it better to go for knowledge or for money?”
- Delegates must submit these to the tutor a few days before the training.
- The tutor should collect them and compile them into a series of anonymous essays identified only by numbers. The tutor may choose to setup a system so that the essays are collected anonymously so even the trainer wouldn’t know who wrote what.
- The tutor should send this compilation back to all the delegates.
- Delegates must read all of the essays before they come to the training.
- In the course, initiate a discussion and ask the delegates to state what they thought of the collective mindset. Were they surprise by the frequency of one view over the other? What did they think of the opposing views to them? Did they learn something new?
- At this point delegates are not obliged to reveal their positions. It is in fact better if they don’t state what views they took when they wrote their essays.
- Let the discussions to freely follow and make sure all aspects are discussed proportionally.
- Guide the discussion to cover critical areas. Follow the discussion with real-world examples and stories. This is your chance as the tutor to push the debate in a particular direction.
- For example, if the delegates in general preferred Knowledge over Money, get them to discuss Money and refer to history on the likes of Henry Ford who started with Money and expanded their business until he had lots of scientists and engineers at his disposal and effectively got to Knowledge indirectly.
- On the other hand, if the delegates were biased towards Money, refer back to stories favouring Knowledge such as people who started Google by coming up with a better solution for search and almost without care for the commercialisation of their idea until much later. In fact, they let their creativity and freedom lead them forward which made them innovative and eventually quite prosperous, hence getting to Money indirectly.
- Now, ask the delegates to review the discussions so far and write another essay about their views. Of course, they are free to change their position anyway they like. No one will know what their previous views were.
- They can reveal this new position to others and indeed it is ideal to see how many prefer Money or Knowledge and if this has changed statistically from the pre-course essays.
Explaining the Test: 5 minutes.
Activity: 20 minutes discussions + 40 minutes writing a new essay => 60 minutes.
Group Feedback: 10 minutes.
Ask the delegates how they felt about the entire exercise? Was it useful to see what others thought? Did they feel comfortable to change their views? Did they learn something new they didn’t know before? Do they now look at certain concepts differently? How important is it to have an answer for this?
This exercise is deliberately setup to give the delegates a chance to see others’ views while being able to change their own views without worrying about how they are perceived by others. It is well known that when people take a position publicly, they won’t easily change their views even if they are wrong, let aside when it is a matter of opinion.
The quest for the answer to this question is indeed so valuable that it makes sense to go to this length to probe one’s view as well as those of others. You can take the anonymous method even further by using more advanced debating techniques such as the Delphi Method.
In particular, in this exercise delegates:
- Explore what they really want in their life
- Learn how to write good essays
- Learn how to debate with others, especially over open subjects with no obvious answer
- Learn from other delegates’ style of writing
Are free to change their mind after the initial attempt.