Did you know that William Wilberforce, credited with a major role in abolishing slavery in the British Empire, lived at Rookery House in Erdington?

I did not learn this in a classroom. I have not been a student in a classroom for a long time. I did not learn this watching a MOOC. Not something, while I find podcasts help with tedious tasks like doing the dishes, that I do very often.

I learnt that Wilberforce was a Brummie by going about my everyday life. More precisely, someone (the legendary John Mostyn) told me as we waited for Helga Henry’s latest Conversation event to start. Which, through wide-ranging conversation between Helga and special guest Anneka Deva, as well as intelligent contributions from the floor, reflected on the notion of Birmingham as a learning city.

The Wilberforce connection suggests:

First, the rich tapestry of our wonderful city contains much underappreciated inspiration. Perhaps, as we tackle the persistent scourge of modern slavery, knowing a bit about Wilberforce’s Birmingham life, would fortify us?

Second, while few of us are in classrooms or watching MOOCs, we all need to learn. Not just to be more productive workers but also, as Helga’s event discussed, to live fuller, more rewarding lives. We benefit, therefore, from seamlessly building this learning in to our daily routines. Less Love Island, more chat at 1000 Trades.

While learning is about more than being a better worker, work is so integral to who and what we are that if work is not a learning experience, we are impoverished. But work is changing.

“Like hermit crabs seeking larger shells,” Richard Donkin, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on employment, writes, “people today are yearning for more accommodating arrangements in which to undertake their work. Their quibble is not with work itself. We all understand the need to undertake work in order to improve our lives and provide for our dependents. No, the underlying source of anguish for many people today is an antiquated system of employment and management designed for an industrial age.”

The flexibility of remote working is associated with moving away from these outdated arrangements but, for work to be as much of a learning experience as possible, we require enriching places to ply our trades. By working with Dispace, 1000 Trades offers such.

This Dispace collaboration is one contribution that 1000 Trades will make towards Birmingham being more of a learning city – if you have any other ideas for things we can be doing to help, please let us know.

Suggestions might be prompted by the reading list that Helga and Anneka kindly put together:

Thanks for this list and for a wonderful event, Helga and Anneka!