Last Thursday I was invited to be in a panel discussion at one of our local university. The topic was ‘Peranan Perpustakaan Di Dalam Memertabatkan Ilmu.’ I was asked to speak and discuss from KM point of view in corporate environment. I basically was ever ready and did not need to prepare much. While driving and even more when I was already seated on the stage facing the audience it was confirmed that the majority of them was students, college students. I immediately had to change to plan B. The first panel speaker was Dato Zawiyah and she delivered her piece like she normally did. After ten minutes into it the first line of students in front of me on the left were already in never never land. A few more in the middle rows on the left of the hall were in their dreams as well. Students at the back in the last row as expected were the first group to go oblivious of the going on’s in the hall. I knew they were there not on their free will and some of them can be very well very tired. I had to take the advantage of their present and make it count. When Dato Zawiyah ended and the microphone was passed to me the first thing that I did was aligned my chair so that I was really facing them. I sat leaning forward a bit talking to them as if they were right in front of me and my eyes moved all over the hall as I was talking. After I thanked the organiser for inviting me I focused my full attention at the students. With my direct to the point and shooting at will framing them that I knew what they were and think I got their full attention. Most of them were awake as if being jolted to full attention. I knew I had their full attention to start the conversation. Firstly, I said to them that if any of them still in doubt about knowledge economy needed only to take out their handphone at look at it.
Relating my experience interviewing the straight A’s students coming through our system I said, ‘I must say I was disappointed.’ I alluded to the fact that when I talked to these graduates it was like talking to a machine. One line answer without much discussion and most a text book answers. I continued with my version of memertabatkan ilmu. I seem to get their full attention by way of a delivery. Maybe a shock treatment way. My objective was to urge them to be knowledgeable (berilmu) rather than just clever at their subject. They needed to be reminded that the whole world is revolving around them and they need ot learn to connect the dots. In of the ways, as their entire growing ups had been, social and community in nature. This is the irony to me. They live in a very connected and social world but do not act and think likewise when it comes to making what they have learned more meaningful and comprehensive. I shared with them a little bit what it means to be a knowledge worker as well as my organization as a knowledge-based organization. I was pretty sure when I talked about it about more then half did not have a clue to what I was talking about. Within ten minutes I just stopped talking and urged them to start to converse with us.
Questions started to come led by one planted by the organiser. I must say all the questions are good questions. Although we did not achieve the level of full conversation at least we managed to cover the important issues. One observation though, because of their immaturity and wanting to stake a claim at being the most could not care less macho jocks in campus, most of the Malay boys just sat without showing any commitment. It could be just my perception but then that was what I saw.