Thursday, 16 April 2009

Revolution in Lifelong Learning

If you could do anything in the world and knew without a doubt that you would succeed, what would you do?

If you can answer this question, then you know what your real passion is. Passion, vision, clear goals and an action plan will get you anywhere you want to be and beyond. Do not settle for the second best because it is convenient or comfortable. If you do that, you might always wonder where you could have ended up if you really did go for your dreams.

"A funny thing about life. If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you often get it!" W. Somerset Maugham

To become the best you can be and to stay on top requires learning. Learning from others and learning from yourself - your own mistakes and achievements.

In today's world, if you don't learn, you actually stay behind.

Why? Because there is a great socio-cultural revolution that is sweeping our world today. There is a revolution that is changing the way we live, communicate, think and prosper. A revolution, that will determine how, and if, grown-ups as well as children will work, earn a living and enjoy life to the fullest.

To stay ahead, we need a parallel revolution in lifelong learning to match the information revolution - one that can help each of us learn anything much faster and better and get us to where we want to go.

Without the ability to learn effectively, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the changes taking place and the amount of information we must assimilate each day. The goal of education now should be to "help people be capable of new things, not simply repeat what other generations have done - people who are creative, inventive and discoverers" - Jean Piaget

"The only truly educated person is the one who has learned how to learn." Carl Rogers

"The illiterate of the year 2000 will not be the individual who cannot read and write but the one who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."- Alvin Toffler

So now you know, you can't get away, learning is a part of our life for the rest of our life.

How do you feel about it?
If you feel exited and confident in your ability to learn, you are lucky. If, like many others, you had wished you never read the above paragraph, then the next crucial step for you to make is to forget everything you've ever thought about education. If school was a bore, forget it. If you dropped out early, forget that too. If you lack confidence as a learner because you've had bad experiences, don't worry about it because the fact is you are not stuck with those feelings.

There are many ways to create confidence and make learning your passion. Here are some examples to show you that your inborn genius can come out at any age.

· Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he lacked "good creative ideas.
· Beethoven's music teacher told him he was "hopeless as a composer.
· French postimpressionist painter, who helped form the basis of modern art, Paul Gauguin, only tried painting because he failed as a stockbroker.
· Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration was so disastrous that they didn't work again for years. (They both created a lot of outstanding musical productions).

"Your past is not your potential." Marilyn Ferguson

How you perceive learning and how you feel about it is extremely important if you want to be successful and enjoy the process.

"All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions." Leonardo da Vinci

If you think you should learn something but don't feel good about it, you will look for lots of excuses (such as not having enough time) and, at the end, not do it.

When people say they don't have time for something (for example, studying or exercising) it is simply because they are choosing to do other things that they consider more important or that motivate them more.

If you are motivated to learn and have a clear vision about future success, it will be easy for you to choose study over a more immediate pleasure. So, the next question is:
- How to get motivated and create a positive state of mind whenever we want to?

It is important to decide how you would personally benefit from learning something. Someone once said, that we all listen to Radio Station WII-FM. It stands for "What's In It For Me."

In 1897 Arnold Bennett said, "There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul."

To be effective learners we must:

1. Perceive information.
2. Reflect on how it will impact some aspect of our life.
3. Compare how it fits into our own experiences.
4. Think about how this information offers new ways for us to act.

You need to realize that learning requires not just seeing, hearing, moving, or touching, but also integration of our senses and thoughts with our feeling and actions.

Understanding your feelings, how they are formed and how you can choose to change them is a great skill to have and one of the main factors towards a positive attitude to learning!

We all have an inner voice - the running commentary in our heads that accompanies our action. This inner voice and what it says is actually very important because it programs your subconscious to feel a certain way. You can increase your chance of success in whatever you do by thinking and saying really positive things about yourself - statements that express what you choose to become.

Some people call these statements affirmations. The affirmation doesn't need to be true for you yet - the time to use affirmations is when you are trying to achieve something. An example of an affirmation would be "I am a confident learner!" or "I love learning!"

Using affirmations helps you program your subconscious the way you want it. By repeating them, the subconscious does come to believe in what you are saying and it looks for ways to make your actions match its beliefs.

To learn effectively, you need to concentrate. To be able to concentrate is to be able to direct your energy. If you are tired, tense, or distracted, it is very difficult to do. Also, fear, anxiety, and anger are emotional factors that negatively impact learning. On a physical level, stress can even cause cell assemblies to fire in unorganized patterns and ultimately inhibit transfer and retrieval.

Being able to relax and calm yourself is the next important step in making learning successful.

Before each learning session take a few minutes to relax. Use your favorite way to do it. Deep breathing, neck exercises and an upright spine all allow blood, oxygen and energy to pass freely between body and brain. And remember to replace any negative thoughts with your own affirmations.

The next crucial factor in becoming a successful learner is having clear goals.

There are many reasons why it is important to have clear goals and to know what you want as well as how and where to get it. As Colin Rose puts it, "There is no point in being the most efficient oil rig team in history if you're drilling in the wrong place!"

"In moving towards a desired destination, it is vital to know where you are now." - Peter Senge

The first thing to do when creating your goals is to decide where you are now. It will make it clear for you what "ingredients" are missing. Once that is done, create a vision of what you want to achieve. Ask yourself "Where do I want to be?"

Write your goal down. It is important to write down a goal because you have to think it through more clearly. Also, it will make it more real and more concrete.

Now, close your eyes and see yourself as if you already achieved it - What do you look like? What do you feel like? Who is there to congratulate you?
"A vision gives meaning and purpose to your actions. It is the picture on the jigsaw box of life." -Colin Rose.

If you think you can't visualize, here is the proof that everyone can do it. Worrying is a process where you picture something unpleasant and feel like it had already happened. If you can worry, you can visualize. Here is another one: How many windows are in your kitchen? If you know - you can visualize.

When you have a vision and a goal that feels real to you, you are also more motivated. Having a firm belief that you can achieve that vision, gives you purpose and, if you have a purpose, you create determination and willpower.

Let's say by now you have your clear goals and you're motivated and anxious to learn. The next question would be:
- What is learning and what is the best way to learn?

Learning can be defined as the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skills. It strengthens the brain by building new pathways and increasing connections that we can rely on when we want to learn more.

Since we use our brain to learn, it makes sense to examine how the brain works.

Did you know that, according to Pr. Robert Ornstein (author of Amazing Brain), "The possible number of connections in the human brain is probably bigger that the number of atoms in the universe! With approximately twenty-five billion transactions per second, the brain is more advanced than any computer humans are likely to devise. It has about 100 billion brain cells - 20 times the entire population of the world!"

Sounds impressive, but here is an interesting fact. Brain scientists have discovered that it isn't really the number of brain cells you have that determines how useful your brain is or how intelligent you are, but the connection you make between those brain cells!

Every time new information enters you brain, new connections are made. The more we use our brains, the more stimulation we give it, the more intelligent we become. So, the big news is - intelligence is not fixed.

"Geniuses are more made than born." - Colin Rose

Einstein wasn't a very good student in school and even failed maths initially. Now, his brain lies in a glass jar in a university. It's no bigger than average, but researchers say that it shows evidence of very rich connections between the brain cells.

You can develop your own intelligence.

The more you use your brain, at any age, the better it gets. It thrives on novelty and only declines with lack of stimulation.

But what is intelligence?

Dr. Howard Gardner has defined intelligence as "the ability to create useful products and solve everyday problems." He also points out that we have not just one intelligence - but eight.

1. Linguistic - the ability to write or talk well.
2. Mathematical/Logical - the ability to deal well with numbers and to think logically.
3. Visual/Spatial - the ability to visualize how things will eventually look.
4. Musical - the ability to create and interpret music.
5. Bodily/Physical - the ability to move well, run, dance, build and construct.
6. Inter-personal - the ability to communicate well and get along with others.
7. Intra-personal - the ability for quiet, objective self-analysis, understanding your own feelings and behavior.
8. Naturalist – the ability to observe, understand and organize patterns or elements in a natural environment.

All eight intelligences are of equal value. Although academic success which measures two of the intelligences (linguistic and mathematical/logical), is one way to demonstrate intelligence, in the real world, it is far from the only one. Learning is a lot more effective when you explore the subject through all eight intelligences.

To learn easier and faster it makes sense to work with the brain's own memory-methods.

The usual way of taking notes or writing words column by column doesn't do anything for the brain because brain works in a very different way. It stores information by pattern and association.

Mind maps or learning maps are a great tool to assist your brain.

The essential rule in making learning maps is only to use key words, which will remind you of the whole idea. You start with putting a topic in the center of the page. Then you branch off that topic the main ideas. From each of those ideas you branch of to put more related information. It looks like a tree with branches and it also looks like the connections of our brain cells.

You can use different colors for related ideas. You can also use pictures or symbols instead of key words. According to Colin Rose, "a learning map is a tool to turn ideas and facts into an easily remembered visual pattern of words. You can jump around from one idea cluster to another and literally see the connection between ideas. It is also a tool to allow you to create a logical order for those ideas."

Learning maps can be very useful in organizing and summarizing reading material as well as planning speeches, presentations, reports, or papers.

There is no learning without memory.

Memory is knowledge. Memory is the stepping stone to thinking, because without remembering facts, you cannot think, conceptualize, reason, make decisions, create, or contribute.

The secret of a good or incredible memory is original awareness. When someone says he forgot something, it usually means he never remembered it in the first place because if something has registered in your mind or moved from short-term memory to long-term, it is easy to recall and almost impossible to forget.

So, original awareness is actually forcing information to register in your mind or memory. There are a lot of techniques and even rules for training your memory to do that and they are well worth learning. Here are some of them.

One of the rules is that in order for you to remember any new thing, you must associate it with something you already know or remember. You already do it subconsciously, as when you hear or see something that makes you say, "That reminds me!" The goal is to do it consciously and purposely.

Colin Rose developed a model that shows how memory works. Using this model insures that what we learn gets registered and makes an impression in our memory and it makes it easier to recall.

The model shows that new facts go first into our short-term memory. It is essential to review the information in order to register it and to move it to long-term memory. If not reviewed, it is forgotten! Once the information is in long-term memory it is retained there for recall when needed.

Research indicates that if we want to transfer something from short-term memory to long-term memory, we should think about it, relate it to other things we know, question it, and transform it into our own words.

An extra word on review.

Studies show that time spent reviewing can double the recall and even improve it four-times. If you don't review, the information that you constantly putting in is lost. That makes learning difficult because there will be less data in the brain on which to hook, or associate the next lot of new information.

Spending a little time to register something properly at the beginning saves a huge amount of time later. According to Colin Rose, the best schedule for reviewing is after one hour, the next day, the next week, the next month, and, finally, after 6 months.

A learning map is a great tool for review because all the information is organized on one page with the key words that will remind you of all the essential information at a glance.

To keep the recall of the learned material high, try to have lots of beginnings and endings to the learning session because high concentration lasts for about 20 minutes. So taking frequent breaks in between will drastically improve understanding and recall of the information.

Researchers have also found that we have separate memories for sounds, sights and feelings. Which is why it makes sense not just to read something, but repeat it out loud and, if practical, find a way to associate it with a physical movement.

"If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. If you let me experience, I will learn." Lao Tzu, 6th Century BC

While we may each perceive information through different senses, we ultimately learn by doing. Taking notes from a talk is a good example because you involve your memory for sight (the notes), sound (the talk) and movement (writing). Another example is the way you would learn a foreign word: you would read it, speak it out loud and act it in an exaggerated way (or make a silly visualization of it).

To remember more from any learning situation, do the following:
· relax;
· make a firm intention to remember;
· create "original awareness";
· use techniques to transfer information from short-term memory into long-term;
· take regular breaks;
· review the material.

At the end, ask yourself these two questions:

- What went well?
- What could have gone better?

"If you build up a habit of thinking through how things have gone, you will truly be in control of your own life." Colin Rose

Learning can and should be a lifelong process.

Unfortunately, many adults deny themselves what should be one of the most enriching parts of life because they assume that they can’t learn.

Fortunately, we now know that we can learn from everything the mind perceives and at any age. Dr. Benjamin Bloom, who spent a lifetime studying excellence, has concluded that “anyone can learn anything - the only difference is that some take more time than others.”

Our brains build and strengthen neural pathways no matter where we are, no matter what the subject or the context. When it comes to learning, it is important to try different techniques and choose what suits you best. As long as you are trying and improving, you don't fail.

"I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. I didn't want to be a failure so I did ten times more work." George Bernard Shaw

And remember, only one creature ever sat down to succeed - a chicken!

At the end of the day, the more knowledge we gain about learning styles and techniques, the more there is left to discover. If after reading this article you have more questions about learning than you did before you started reading - great! As George Bernard Shaw says, "I'd rather know some of the questions than all of the answers."

I hope you will get inspired to embark on a lifelong journey of self-discovery and a life of rewarding learning experiences. The words inscribed over the Temple at Delphi read "Know Thyself." This is the greatest challenge in life.

By determining our own unique learning styles, accepting our differences, and even using them to help ourselves and others learn more effectively, we find the wisest approach to learning.

"What lies behind us and what lies in front of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Would you like to learn more about your dominant intelligences, learning styles, your brain and memory?

Then please visit "Discover Your Inborn Genius" e-book by Masha Malka. Masha is currently offering several incredible FREE bonuses with any purchase of her book.

© 2006 by Masha Malka

Discover Your Inborn Genius will reveal proven methods that allow you to unlock your full potential to start living the life you've always known was possible for you. The innovative life-skills disclosed in this ebook are guaranteed to generate more happiness and increased personal and financial fulfillment in your life! Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a student, you will greatly benefit by purchasing this ebook today. Discover your own unique learning style; Easily retrieve information from your memory on demand; Use your brain more effectively by learning how it works; Increase your intelligence; A method that makes learning anything faster and easier; Discover the tools that will allow you to tap into the unlimited possibilities and potential that you possess to create the life of your dreams!

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1 comment:

Cash Gifting Practice said...

It's has been said that the learners will inherit the earth while the learned will be perfectly equipped to live in a world which no longer exists.

Continue to learn every single say. You can repay God for giving you the gift of life by making the most of yourself.

Thanks for sharing this tremendous insight.