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Learning About Learning

May 29, 2020 | 13m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • How to prioritise new knowledge to absorb in a sea of information
  • Why it’s okay to be overly eager about action, but not for results
  • The importance of unlearning what you’ve learnt


Learning in the Digital Era

In today’s digital era, information has never been easier to access than at any other time in history. Everyone, you and I included, can simply Google their way into the largest knowledge base in the world. Yet even amidst this time of great change, an old proverb still holds true; you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

This can also be understood in the context of learning, even when limitless data and information are at your fingertips. In fact, the sheer amount of information out there can also represent an obstacle to one’s learning journey. Even though knowledge resources are plentiful, those who do not hunger for learning will remain ignorant and eventually stagnate or become obsolete as digital transformation continues to impact business. You can’t force the horse to drink if it doesn’t want to, and it’ll grow weak, eventually die of thirst if it persists in not drinking.

However, for those who do want to improve themselves but are unsure of how to maximise their learning efficiency, the insights to follow should help you in learning how to learn. They will also serve as guiding lights for those with the hunger to learn but are unsure of how to make their journey through the vast sea of information.

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” ― E.M. Forster

Your Learning Attitude

Learning should be a naturally cultivated attitude more than anything else, as natural as the act of breathing. While it can sometimes be challenging, it should never feel like a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, something you need to force yourself to do.

Once, we helped organise a big workshop; it seemed to be proceeding quite well. When I asked one of the participants for their experience, he explained how he felt there was zero learning. That took me by surprise, since even bad workshops have their takeaways, and you get to learn what not to do. At that moment, I felt bad since we indeed could have organised a better workshop, but it was coupled with a sense of sadness for that person’s experience. Three days into the programme, he expressed learning nothing throughout its duration.

What I took away from this scenario was that the process of learning shouldn’t be an on-off switch, but one that is constant. If you’re talking to your boss, there’ll be something worth learning from the occasion, regardless of the conversation itself being good or bad. After the experience, on your way back to the office, take some time to revisit the situation in your mind. What did you learn from this? What could you have done or said differently? If you achieved a positive result, what did you do differently that led to it? Your learning attitude should fundamentally include such a process of inquiry.

It’s true that you may need to devote some time to acquire certain skills and specific knowledge. However, it’s the presence of learning as a natural aspect of life even outside of these occasions which establishes it as an attitude more than a trainable skill.

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