Try looking up the word “learning” on the Internet. Is there any common pattern that you find while scrolling through the results? At first, it may seem like most results focus on definitions and learning strategies. There is nothing curious about this, is there?!
The curious observation though, consists of something else: Almost all results on learning are contextualized in the school or university environment. Believing that learning is closely tied only to universities and that it ends once we get out of the academic world, is not real, and to some extent, it is even naïve.
In reality, the process of learning endures throughout our whole life, taking different shapes, as we continue to grow personally and professionally. The quest for knowledge becomes an absolute in itself, despite the specifics that it takes in the individual paths of each person. Some decide to continue being in the academic world and transmit knowledge via teaching, while simultaneously being updated with new facts and teaching methodologies. Some others decide to enter the corporate world and give their contribution to society via working and embracing new knowledge in their jobs. In all cases, despite professional learning, new experiences add new elements that involve soft skills and overall personality progress. As multidimensional knowledge continues to build up, it tends to get applied in decision making and as years pass by, it transforms into something more holistic: wisdom.
There are several tools how to embrace learning while enjoying this process at the same time. Here are some of them:
- Be curious – Curiosity implies asking many questions, thus engaging into a life-long marathon of questions and answers that resembles much what Socrates had in mind when he used to stimulate consecutive debates with his students. The ability to be good in questioning serves as a tool towards deeper learning, critical thinking and understanding the meaning of different concepts as basis to formulate an opinion;
- Be open to new experiences – Experiential learning is one of the few types of learning that genuinely involves the subconscious part of the brain as it involves emotions, engaging with others and facing practical challenges. Thus, it develops not just the personal self, but also the social, political and historical self. Therefore, travel as much as you can, meet new people and do not be afraid to take up new roles or challenges;
- Observe frequently – Observational learning is fundamental as it includes having some role models and enhances the ability to listen from those who are more experienced and intellectually mature. This type of learning can happen anywhere and it helps in paying attention to detail, which will later help towards building a project, an organization, or even a start up from scratch;
- Read… Read… Read…- Despite graduating from college or Master’s, the traditional way of learning via reading should not stop. Keep reading books, articles, update yourself with news and form an educated opinion, trying to be as critical as possible.
- Participate in regional/international workshops, conferences and different events where you can practice working in groups and brainstorming new initiatives or ideas;
- Engage in self-reflection – in the midst of a busy life, try to find some time to reflect on new knowledge or skills absorbed and on how to build upon them, contributing towards your intellectual growth.
Life-long learning might have been through some methodological metamorphosis throughout the years. For instance, now there are MOOC courses online and other e-learning educational tools that are developing worldwide. Nevertheless, the substance of learning per se and mastering wisdom have remained intact from the most ancient civilizations up to today’s modern societies.
As human beings, we are gifted with the capacity to reason. Using this reasoning along with some intuition, imagination, and empathy, will get us to better know ourselves and develop our potential.
There is no end to what we can truly learn. It is all up to us and our willingness to evolve!!!
Contributed by Ina Gjika