How to Think About Learning

the road to happiness, find out what interests youLife Long Learning, Note 08
Here is a great way to think about life long learing (Peak Learning, page 46).

Learning is an ongoing process in which you first identity the things that intrigue you, then find out about them to whatever degree you want. Next you process that knowledge and build on it, fitting it in where it is useful and worth keeping, while noting where you can find out the rest when and if you need it. Finally, you start the same cylcle over again.

Let's break it down.

An ongoing process.
It is not an event, it is a process. It is a process that has a number of movements.

First, you identify the stuff that intrigues you.
That is what is so great about life long learning. What are you interested in? What intrigues you? What stirs your curiosity? That is the "stuff" you learn about. When we are younger, when we are in school - we don't have as much control over what we want to learn. In adulthood - you are in charge of your own learning. And that begins with the simply question - what do YOU want to learn? That is what you study and explore.

For example, right now I am fascinated about C.S. Lewis. I am also intrigued with John Wesley (someone who I have never really studied. I am also learning new material for guitar and bass guitar. The point is simple - I am learning what I want to learn!

Then, you find out about them to the degree you want.
Not only do you decide what to learn, but how much you want to learn. How far do you want to go about what interests you? Once again - for adult learning - it is up to you. Learn a little or learn a lot - it is up to you. Learn about that "thing" for the entire year or do it for two weeks - it is up to you.

Now, I tend to like to go pretty far and deep when I am interested in a subject. For example, I will spend at least two years reading Lews and reading about Lewis. Since reading is a prime part of my learning, and there is so much to read, I do about two books a month. In two years time, I'll read about 50 books. For Wesley, i am reading a really great book right now. I had not planned on doing any more learning, but I may pick up another book or two to learn some more. (Or I may is up to me, and I will see what I feel like in the next few weeks.)

Learning means you think about what you are learning.
Learning involves getting the facts, the data, the bits and pieces. Now that you have those "pieces" you think about them, you put them together, you arrange the knowledge you are gaining, and you build on it. Learning involves acquisition, arrangement and advancement of what is being learned. You do this as much or as little as you want. Obviously, the more you invest, the more you learn.

I do a lot of my arranging and advancing by writing. I engage with core ideas in my journal. I blog about some of them. I fit other ideas into my teaching ministry. I am teaching the book of Romans and I have a lot of ideas from the book on John Wesley that I have added to my material for the first two lessons. I also added quite a few ideas to a notebook I have on the theology of sanctification. The point - acquire, arrange and advance your learning.

Pay attention to where you can do more learning.
Then go ahead and do it.

For me, I keep a running list of possible areas to explore in Lewis. I find more books I want to read, more themes I am interested in, posts I want to write.

Then, start the process all over again with another area of interest.
And risking sounding repetitious - you pick what you want and do it all over.

And that is life long learning. So here is my question: Who wouldn't be interested in life long learning? You are in charge. You decide. You learn what you want, as you want, at the pace you want. 

Here is my next question. What intrigues you?

And my final question. When are you going to get started?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International