I spent most of my years as an average student with no ambition.
I got all my work completed and turned in. I got Bs and I was satisfied. I went to school because I was legally obligated to do so and have parents that cared about me having a future that did not include living in their basement as an adult.
Something happened when I got to college though. A new world opened up. I got to choose what I wanted to learn. I was able to pursue my interests. I had the ability to take whatever class I wanted. I discovered that I love learning.
My desire is to impart a love of learning to my children, and the children who walk through the doors of my classroom in the future. This is how I have enjoyed the journey of learning so far…
Read. Read some more.
There are people who are so much more intelligent that I am. I want to take full advantage of their learning! Their words help me discover the world and how I fit into it.
As a child one of my favorite things to do was read. I spent hours reading everything I could get my hands on. My parents had years of National Geographic magazines collected and stashed away on a bookshelf. Through the pages of this magazine I learned about other cultures, geography, and science. I was fascinated by what I read about the world we live in. I was able to take journeys around the globe and learn about people groups that lived in the jungles of Asia and the savannahs of Africa. I was able to do so because the wonders of the world were in words and photographs!
Read books. Read whatever you can. Learn from others that are farther along on the journey of life than you are. See through their words how to grow and develop.
Develop strategies to remember information.
Sometimes I need to have the facts at the forefront of my mind. I need to use ticks to remember things. Do you know the order of operations in math? They are, “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally,” or parenthesis, exponents, multiplication/division, addition/subtraction. Without a trick, I can’t remember what to do first, second, and so on.
Educational Psychology was a terrific class for learning strategies. (Thank you Dr. deGanahl!) The most helpful portion of the class was about how the brain processes information, and then stores that information in long-term memory. I wish I had some of the study strategies and information in a simplified form at the beginning of my school days as a kid. I wish my teachers had taught me not only what to remember, but how to remember.
Make up mnemonic devices. Create stories that help remember what comes next. Develop a study schedule that works for you. Try things until you find what works.
Learn from doing.
This is where learning becomes practical. There are connections between what we learn at school and the real world. It is those connections that make learning applicable.
I have found that if I can use what I learn, then not only do I retain that information, but I discover that the effort I put into my studies has meaning. The meaningfulness gives me the desire to continue to pursue the course of learning.
Find ways to apply what you learn. Discover the connections between your academic life and your work or passions.
Laugh at mistakes.
Failure happens. It is okay to take risks while learning. I grew up moving between two cultures, one which has a language I am not fluent in. I had to learn to eat interesting things. I had to learn different social mannerisms. Through it all I made a lot of mistakes. People laughed at me, often! I was in a culture where it was acceptable to laugh when things went wrong. It became easier when I learned I could laugh at myself too.
I can’t take myself too seriously; I am just not good enough at life to do so!
I am afraid of failure. I don’t want to fail at raising my children. I don’t want to fail in my relationships. I don’t want to fail in my education. But the thing is, I will fail at many things because I am fallible. It is what I do with my failures that will enable me to learn, grow, and develop.
Learn to laugh at yourself. Roll your eyes when you mess up. It will all be okay. As L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley says, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” It will be alright because tomorrow will be a fresh start.
Ask for advice.
This brings me back to the same point I made while talking about reading: there are people a lot smarter than I am that I can learn from. Sometimes, though, I am in a place where researching isn’t the answer- listening is.
When my husband and I became parents we talked to my mom and dad a lot. They did a great job raising four children. I want to know how it is they got us kids through our childhood without the years of rebellion, anger, or depression that I sometimes see young people struggle through.
Their advice: pray. “Pray for the attitudes of your children. Pray for their purity. Pray for their future spouses. Teach them the Word. Model what it is to be a God-honoring man or woman. Be the same people within the walls of your home as you are in public because kids recognize hypocrisy.” My husband and I are in the middle of our parenting years now and we still follow the advice my parents gave us 13 years ago. We are still learning how to apply it as well.
When you need help, ask for advice. Learn from other’s life experiences. Their lessons are likely hard won.
Learning is a life-long occupation. So continue to make discoveries. Delve deeply into things that interest you. Use what you learn.
How do you learn, grow, and develop?
Photos CC- By Pimthida, Klearchos Kapoutsis, emilybean, cheriejoyful, and Oberazzi. Listed in order of appearance.