Think of a subject that you really didn’t like when you were in school – or right now, if you’re a student.
Which one, if any, of these three approaches would encourage you to at least investigate further, if not fully pursue, the disliked subject?
a) It’s been pointed out to you the many ways you could benefit by paying attention and learning this subject.
b) It’s been pointed out to you the many ways that not paying attention and learning this subject could limit your option
c) It’s been well demonstrated to you: that paying attention to this subject could benefit both your understanding of yourself, other people, and the world – as well as inform you about this subject.
Maybe neither love nor money could persuade you to engage. Maybe great marks, great jobs, rapid movement to the top of the ladder – win, win, win – just wasn’t incentive enough. Perhaps not even the thought of lose – lose – lose – could push you. This is g
reat stuff – you aren’t easily influenced – but …
The first two approaches are in the same category as do it right, so you don’t get it wrong – either/or, black or white sorting. How often do you find only two possibilities in real world situations?
Notice that the persuasive/coercive approaches leave you out: your interpretations, your reasoning, your understanding. How what you take in
connects to you, as a human being, matters. How what you take in connects you to other human beings matters, too.
Bringing home the bacon and being good at what you do is something you value. But you aren’t just a projectile to be fired at a target somewhere out there in the business or academic jungle. Dancing to the tune of acquiring what you’re told you need to know isn’t the same as developing a personal – or a big – picture.
If what what we’re expected to learn rarely goes any where near the inner reason for learning – to grasp reality as well as possible – is it any wonder commitment to learning so often falls off? Loading the mind with knowledge – to get a good mark, a good job, or at least a good paycheck – is mostly concerned with the teaching of what to think. Learning about how to develop sound thinking – skills needed to pin-point what really matters to you in life, and to make well considered decisions by yourself, for yourself, generally come in a poor second.
It’s often said that success comes of loving what you do.
But love has so many definitio
ns. Caring about the growth of our minds is so often over-ridden by the constant noise of outside influence. If caring doesn’t kick in or is drowned out, very little is learned. Creative thinking, not unlike walking and talking, is mostly self-taught from picking up on others example. Recall a school subject you really liked. Did your appreciation have more to do with how what you were learning was put across than the subject itself?
Connecting to – and succeeding with – what we do, is thought to depend on learning skill sets. Following rules and methods found to be effective aids to learning is a good beginning. But the ideas and reasoning behind the mechanics need to come along for the ride. The weaker the idea that we can learn anything of importance from a source, the more slowly – or superficially – we learn. Method isn’t enough. Those most successful at learning see opportunities to increase understanding where many wouldn’t bother – or out and out refuse – to even look. If you haven’t read Viktor Frankl, give it a shot for an example.
It seems the initial willingness to connect is the deal maker or breaker – staying open to learning independently of the situation. Where we already do this was likely learned long enough ago, that it’s become automatic. We don’t notice what we’re actually doing when we engage – or what we’re doing when we don’t. From this idea, at least one possibility of ramping up more open, creative, thinking and learning comes to mind:
Re-discover the skills you already have:
Think about your favorite teacher, then consider what would have happened had this teacher taught every subject.
What was this teacher encouraging that helped you to engage with what you were learning?
Now think about a subject you liked no matter who was teaching – one you were motivated to find out more about on your own. Note similarities and differences in how you approached this subject compared to one you wished you didn’t have to take.
What ideas and approache
s are you finding out of this examination that you’d count on to connect – motivate engagement
no matter what the subject is, who’s instructing, or how it’s coming at you?
Of these ideas and approaches, which ones work best to keep you focused on discovering information that adds to understanding in general, no matter the situation or context?
Don’t set your mind – open it! Take the time to think about your most creative learning experiences – and put what counted most about them into words. The best methods and ideas are in there, just waiting to be withdrawn from the memory bank.