We are going to be learning for the rest of our lives, so we might as well do it right and make the most of all of the information available to us!
It’s a fact that we never stop learning. So, if you think you know it all, it might be time to change your mindset. This will allow you the opportunity to humbly grow your knowledge.
What have you Learned today?
Wouldn’t that be a cool alternative to “How was your day?” Though both questions carry their own relevance, asking someone how their day was has become more of a greeting than an actual question, hasn’t it? Asking someone what they’ve learned demands a little more than a “Fine, thanks, and yours?”
Learning, as it were, is generally defined as the acquisition of knowledge through experience, instruction or study. We constantly learn. Every day our mind and senses get stimulated by new information, whether we are aware of it or not. There is not a day we go to sleep being the same person we were the day before.
Just today, I can already recall three things I learnt. They may seem random when listed this way, but it just goes to show how a regular day can be filled with various interactions and expriences that provide new knowledge:
> Scheduling an uber in advance can help you avoid sky-high prices during rush hour
> How to recognise if a coconut is unripe or ripe
> A new expression in Portuguese
Yip, I didn’t know any of that 24 hours ago.
Learning vs. Studying
Some of you may think that learning and studying are the same thing, but they’re not mutually exclusive. Sure, when you study, you learn. But studying isn’t the only pathway to aquire new knowledge. As in its definiton, learning can be done enitrely through personal experience, or internalising something someone has said. When we talk about continued learning, this includes an endless amount of possiblities. Travel, relationships, losses, success… they’re not called ‘life lessons’ for no reason.
So yes, there may come a day when school is over, and university is over… but never will or should there be a day when you can say “I’m done learning.”
The Value of Continuous Learning
Since we’ve already established the fact that learning is forever ongoing, let’s look at some of the ways it can happen. For the sake of clarity, let’s divide the learning types into two sections: formal learning and informal learning.
- Formal Learning
Formal learning refers to things like secondary and tertiary schooling, courses or other learning types that generally involve a classroom structure, or a teacher-student dynamic. It involves determined methodologies and learning techniques. Oftentimes, there is a curriculum or agenda to which formal learning adheres.
- Distance learning courses
- Short courses
- Academic articles
Why it’s important:
Our society revolves around a normative education system. Whether the nature of this system is up to date with modern day life is debatable, but nevertheless, it equips us with a basic set of skills and knowledge that we need to advance in society, such as:
Reading & Writing
Working with others
Presenting an argument
It also lets us continue with further formal education, since finishing school is required to get into university or other tertiary institutions – and, whether we like it or not, for many careers this is a prerequisite.
Professionals that conduct this type of learning are specialists in their field and have dedicated a lot of time to study the materials they are teaching. We learn from qualified teachers, professors, researchers and other experts who have made it their life’s mission to share their knowledge of how the world works.
- Informal Learning
This kind of learning comes from pretty much everything else. Life experiences, hobbies, relationships, spirituality… you name it. The European Commission explains informal learning as “learning which is for personal development purposes, recreation and leisure to improve quality of life.”
It’s also worth pointing out that this kind of learning can be voluntary and involuntary. We don’t always ask for the lessons we learn, but they come along anyway.
- Outings (e.g. museums)
- Interesting conversations
Why it’s important:
We are complex human beings, full of questions, desires & dreams, and it’s in our nature to grow and change as we walk through life. It’s a pretty unstoppable force. We can’t continue through life as an unchanging person. It’s impossible. Every lesson, every theory, and every skill we learn helps us to better adapt to the world around us.
Learning goes back to the very basis of the theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest. We have to be pretty fit to survive this crazy world, and the capacity for learning is what allows us to do that. By continuously learning, we continuously improve our understanding of who we are, what we are doing here and where we might be going.
“I’M STILL LEARNING.” – MICHEL ANGELO