Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Learning to Love to Learn!

I'd written this article for the Global Knowledge Review (KM Magazine published by David Gurteen) a couple of years ago. Reproducing it here for you...


Learning to Love to Learn!

Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge…and applying it. While in school, learning most of the subjects, for me, was a bitter pill that had to be swallowed for the panic of being punished by stern teachers and the apprehension of disappointing expectant parents. Was the attitude so because I did not understand the practical applications of subjects ‘learned’? Most probably, but, fortunately, life is a great teacher! It soon brought me to a stage where the importance of continuous learning and learning to learn emerged. The learning process has since then turned out to be appealing and exciting rather than obligatory! A process that has resulted in amazing discoveries and startling ideas; supported existence and accomplishment; ultimately, connecting me to life! Maybe the sudden allure was to do with the increased visibility of the value of learning - the fact that more of the learning arose from experience and then came back a full circle for re-application. I have, consequently, endeavored to learn and to learn to learn, continuously. Here are some associated thoughts, experiences, and suggestions that I’d like to share.

Why is it so important to learn continuously? On a different note, are we cheating ourselves by believing that we are always learning and the need to learn need not be overemphasized? Let’s examine this from close quarters for answers. Change is the only constant. When things change, we need to adapt to the changing circumstances to survive and grow. And, to adapt to changing circumstances, we need to…learn! Given the fact that the most difficult of things for us is to change, we aren’t far away from understanding that, in effect, this means it is difficult for us to learn! So, is it really uncalled for to talk about the importance of learning? Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young”. If we don’t learn and change, we could be sitting ducks or even dead ducks. Ergo, we ought not to duck learning opportunities!

So, how do we learn and learn to learn? One obvious fact follows. If we’ve discovered our passion, we’re on the way to learning (and earning) for sure. We go wherever our passion leads. For example, I’d jump up and grab anything on KM because I want to learn more but might not pocket a book on politics even if it were distributed for free. Simply because the latter isn’t an area I am inherently passionate about. A problem arises if our passion dies. But if we’ve followed its evolution, and are detached enough to move into our passion’s newer form, we are safe. We can still keep it alive, even if only in another form. The paradox is that if we are so emotionally attached to our passion that we refuse to acknowledge its natural death if such a thing happens, we are not learning. To describe activities that help us learn, I need not go any further than the principles of KM itself. To ensure that we learn continuously, we need to be involved in obvious activities like reading, interaction, reflection and documentation. Getting food for thought is now an easy task with high-quality books, the Internet and search engines like Google. Recluses beware! Interaction & networking are now inescapable if we want to gain knowledge and be in the know. Interaction also has the potential to shake us out of our shells and follow new thoughts and ideas provided we have the attitude - that of letting in opposing views and innovative ideas and being open to voices that challenge! Teaching is considered as one of the best ways to learn as it exposes one to innumerable questions and compels us to be extremely sure of what we know. Finally, reflection, introspection and documentation help us learn. They help us draw upon our intuition and creative abilities, question ourselves, and analyze/consolidate our thoughts. After all, answers also come from within – our mental and spiritual resources. Keeping a book of ideas & thoughts, writing and blogging are great ways to call upon these resources. Here is to blissful learning! :)

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