10 Extraordinary Ways for Learning to Learn

Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read: he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.

-Herbert Gerjuoy

What is your choice for the top learning issues of the day? Learning to learn is our choice. Taught in schools? We have not found many that teach it. We were very surprised by this finding.

In earlier times, perhaps several generations or so ago, our great grand parents and their parents faced an entirely different problem of learning to learn. In their environment, both generations shared the same problems and basically the same solutions. Learning in this environment was a lot simpler. It was simply a matter of transferring information (facts) from the older generation to the newer one.

Enter the industrial age where the world had begun to change very rapidly and grow in complexity. Old solutions, old facts, were no longer enough. Learning needed to change to keep up, switching from learning old information to discovering and understanding new information and solutions. Clearly a paradigm shift had begun. No longer dumping facts into a learner’s memory was going to be adequate.

In the information and internet ages, learning problems have gotten much worse. The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years … doubling. We are clearly living in exponential times.

So how do we improve our ability for learning to learn in such a complex environment? We have defined 10 ways we believe are essential in achieving this goal. Let’s discuss each of these:

Most of what we know, we didn’t learn in school. We learned it in the real world, actually doing, not reading or listening to about doing. Confucius once said: I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.

He appreciated that being a creator was the best way to learn. Make your learning be active learning and be creators as often as possible. We believe this the most critical of the 10 ways to improve your learning.

If we have the guts to think about what we don’t know, confuse our learners, perplex them, and evoke real questions, we can create curiosity. This curiosity can be used to tailor robust methods of blended learning. Curiosity must come first. Questions can be fantastic windows to great learning, but not the other way around. Build your skill of curiosity … it is a necessity for good learning.

Albert Einstein once said: Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.

He understood the complexities of the world today required imagination for the discovery of new ideas and solutions. Imagination requires lots of practice; it doesn’t just happen on its own. So start working on this skill to add it to improving your learning.

By observing life’s experiences around us and careful reflection of what we observe, we can gather facts and information to learn new solutions and methods. Increase your ability to ‘connect the dots’ around you. Take notes and revisit them often.

Embrace the mess of complex learning. In this new world of continuous learning, we are all teachers as well as learners. We realize learning is often an ugly task. Accept that the process of trial and error is an acceptable learning process.

Our brains pay more attention to things in the environment that are new to our experience. So, seek out as many new experiences to try as you can handle and become an explorer.

We need to be learners that ask hard questions and explore what might work and what won’t. As a learner, we need to accept failure so we can use often times messy trial and error. Make failures and mistakes as learning sources (and the mistakes and failures need not be yours).

We as learners respond to things around ourselves that elicit emotion. Put emotional stories to work to create a stimulus-response learning process. Listen for inspirational and emotional stories and use them as experiential learning for yourself and those around you.

In learning, we respond best when we determine things are that are most meaningful. Find the motivational meanings that provide the meanings that motivate us to dig on.

People learn new things best when they are in contrast to other information in the environment or to things that are in contrast to previous experiences. To improve learning, work on your experience of change … study trends and study changes going on around you. Step out into the unknown as often as you can.

Connecting with others in the internet world is a great way to share ideas and solicit feedback, new views, and ideas. Once you have found some interesting connections who share like goals, try a collaboration project or two. Collaboration is an excellent way to expand learning in a sharing environment.

Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Mike Schoultz writes about improving the performance of business. Bookmark his blog for stories and articles. www.digitalsparkmarketing.com