Monday, March 8, 2010

What's There to Learn?

By Vanilla

Do we ever stop learning?

I wrote about lifelong learning awhile ago and received echos from like-minded readers. In those articles, I make a general assumption that we always have something to learn, except that we may not be able to cope with the load due to say, 'lack of time' (a phrase that makes me cringe).

No doubt, there are really lots of stuff to learn out there, big and small and I have yet to come across one who would disagree with me. T
he only question left is HOW to go about learning them. In "Lifelong Learning - My Way", I suggested various ways to make lifelong learning easier and more sustainable, in an attempt to answer the 'HOW' question.

By Vanilla

What if there is nothing to learn?

Do not dismiss my question yet. Let me put you in a situation and elaborate:

You were at a one-hour talk and listening to a speech , one of those very uninspiring types. You gave the speaker your full attention but it did not last beyond the 'introduction'. You tried harder. This time you managed to go pass the first item on the agenda. You struggled to stay on but you decided to be honest with yourself. You admitted that you were not going to learn anything from what he was about to say next. You turned off your 'learning switch' and spaced out, checking your watch occasionally.

Needless to say, you spent an hour in there and gained almost nothing. You left at the end of the talk grumbling "What a waste of my time!".

Sounds familiar to you? Similar situations can take place during meetings or lectures too.

Most people choose to 'waste' the time away and few 'brave' ones would walk out of the situation and proceed to do something else.
In other words, they would choose between:

1. Stay on and learn nothing

2. Get out and do something else

Yes, I do believe that we always have choices but wasting our time learning nothing should not be one of them.
Given the same situation, I would have framed my choices this way:

1. Get out and do something else

2. Stay on and LEARN something different

1. Get out and do something else

I could get myself out of that place and do something more meaningful for the next one hour. This option is always there but the price tag may vary depending on the situation.

As much as we would like to think that all of us are born free, we are not! From a young age, we are subject to house rules. In schools there are school rules. At work places, they impose company policies and out there, we are expected to follow social norms. On top of that, there are statutory laws governing all of us.

In short, it is not easy to do whatever we want, whenever we want, without paying a price for it.

I will go for this option only if I think I can afford the price and that the price is worth paying for.

By Vanilla

2. Stay on and LEARN something different

Being rational, I often choose to stay on (somehow, the price is seldom worth paying for).

I believe that there is always something I can learn in any given situation. In this case, since I have concluded that the speaker could not give me something worthwhile, I could always redesign my learning.

Now, repeat after me: "All of us are the sole designer of our own lifelong learning.

By Vanilla

Just shift your focus and you can see that there are other possible alternatives:

a. Presentation style

Why is the speaker so uninspiring? Listen to his tone and watch his body language. Note the mistakes he has made. Learn not to do the same when it is your turn to give a speech.

b. Presentation slides

Why are the slides so unattractive? Note the language, font types, colors, graphics (usually it is the lack of), wordiness, flow and number of slides. Ask yourself this question throughout his presentation "How could I have done it differently?"

c. Audience response

Look around: Why is everyone looking so absent? What are they doing? Are there some people who are looking engaged? What could have attracted them to do so? (please observe discreetly)

d. Logistics

Is the place making you feel comfortable? What is right and wrong about the venue? Is the stage looking presentable? Are there things on the stage which constantly distract you? is the sound system working well? Would you have made the same arrangement?

By Vanilla

Each of the above learning pointers would have given you much to think about. While you may not have learned much (or anything) from the speaker, you would not have wasted that precious one hour of your life.

Lifelong learning is a non-stop process. Do not allow anything or anyone to get in your learning path.

Finally, there is nothing to learn from this article...if you think so.

"I am learning all the time.
The tombstone will be my diploma."
~Eartha Kitt~

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1 comment:

Inspirational Quotes said...

Thanks for sharing this. Keep up the good work. I really appreciate this sharing this. Nice and informative article.