Bad Habit #10 ~ Stop Learning New Things
Years ago it seemed our belief approach to learning was;
“we must learn in order to do”.
The tide has shifted a bit now and we have given ourselves a collective permission;
“to do in order to learn”.
Nobody played the new tabletop game until somebody read the box top and taught us all how to play. Today, our school days behind us, so many of us have taken it upon ourselves to “do” the things we’re interested in and training ourselves to be successful at them at the same time.
It seems learning itself has changed over the years. There’s so much awareness and even forgiveness for all of us to acknowledge our different styles of learning now. The older we get we just instinctually know what we need to do in order to learn something new. We know what kind of learner we are. Here’s a quiz for you to discover what kind of learner you are. Check out this really cool quiz to determine what style of learner you are: Learning Style Quiz. Coming to terms with the type of learner you are can really save you a lot of grief (i.e. no more pounding your head against the wall when you can’t understand the manual)
Eutopia had an interesting perspective on learning…
We’ve all heard of the fight or flight response. We go into survival mode when threatened by something or someone. We either put up our dukes (literally or metaphorically) or take off running (literally or metaphorically). Students often go into survival mode when they feel threatened by an overwhelming cognitive task or confusing text, or when they are called on and don’t know the answer, or are confronted or teased by another student (or a teacher!) Can one even learn in such a setting?
It’s a question that deserves our full consideration.
As teachers, we also know that when students’ affective filters or defenses are sky high, fight or flight responses will be modus operandi. A room full of defensive behaviors (withdrawn, angry) is a sad, unproductive place to teach and learn.
Now let’s flip it and take a look at how much more we are able to learn when we are in harmony with the people and things in any given educational environment. Being in harmony means feeling safe, feeling valued and a necessary part a group, and in this case, a learning community.
Hearts and Minds in Sync
What does research show to be the opposite of the brain’s fight or flight response? It shows that when we don’t feel threatened at all, we have a willingness to be vulnerable, to be open to new ideas and guidance from others — the ideal learning scenario!
Why is learning tied to our happiness? From our article “22 Habits of Unhappy People”…
It isn’t hard to become complacent in life. You’ve spent so much time going to school to eventually get a job that learning sometimes takes a backseat to life. Learning doesn’t need to be a chore. Just like hobbies, get out there and learn about something you are passionate about. Like mexican food? Sweet, start reading about it and practice making five star restaurant quality mexican food. Learning new things not only gives you things to talk about in social environments, it also helps improve your self worth, which leads to happiness.
Learning isn’t just for the young at heart… You know what they say…
If you always do what you’ve always done
You’ll always get what you’ve always got ~ Anthony Robbins
Nope…this is not me. My office is in our home, so if I didn’t learn new things I’d be as dull as a box of rocks.
I LOVE learning. It’s a many times daily event that I’ll run across a word, a theory, an article that I don’t know or understand and then I’m off researching so I CAN understand. And of course, we have friends and family who play the “What is….” game with us. We even have a friend that we refer to as “The Googler.” It is her responsibility to find out the answers to questions we may have during the day or evening, and educate us on the answers. I have hobbies that are constantly sending me to reference books, and lets not forget ALL the things I’ve learned researching for “The Behavior Exchange Challenge!”
I grew up in a house where I associated learning with punitive actions. It was the time and space between not know and knowing that was my agony. If I was learning something and I did not yet know the answer, there was a punitive action….I could be punished or humiliated. My mother didn’t like mistakes, so there was no grace period. I took piano lessons at a very early age, my mother didn’t like the “learning process” of the playing the piano part…she didn’t want to listen to me make mistakes, so I practiced on a cardboard cutout of a piano keyboard. I knew even at this very young age, I wasn’t getting anything out of practicing like this, so I learned to pretend. I also learned to “hate learning” and how to pretend.
As a result, I built a career on doing what I already knew. It worked well for a while, but when I got burned out and needed to do something else, I didn’t know how to do anything else and the learning something else wasn’t appealing to me.
I took a job at Apple Computers for something to do a few years ago. It changed my life. I didn’t trust the safe environment they were providing me as an employee to learn all about a new platform. I wasn’t used to a Mac, I was a PC gal my whole life. The “kids” I worked with at Apple showed me not only CAN you teach an old dog some new tricks, but you can ignite a fire for learning that never existed before. I don’t work at Apple any more, but the joy I found in learning new things is stronger than it’s ever been (I’m also never going back to the PC platform again).
Next resolution…conquer that Piano!
“Remember, you are the same today as you will be in five years, except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read. Choose both carefully.”
― Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
The concept of “Earth school” resonates with me. I am HERE to learn…grow…evolve. Life provides opportunities to learn lessons…if the lesson is not learned the first time…more opportunities are provided.
After spending almost four decades as a professional educator, I now know that I was called to teach what I needed to learn, and my own children and my students were/are my best teachers.
Maya Angelou says:
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
Thank you Charlie, Maya, Lee and Barbara!
Sue – what a lovely atta-girl! Barb and I are both learning a ton with The Behavior Exchange Challenge, and hope that the our learning is benefitting other folk, too. Thank you for your comment!