Reflecting upon my years of formal education (particularly middle and high school) evokes memories of classrooms with a matrix of desks facing one considerably larger desk and a chalkboard, listening to seemingly endless hours of instruction, completing in class assignments, and sometimes being fearful of being called upon to answer a question. Being a student was my job. While at “work”, I was expected to listen to the teacher, follow directions, and thoroughly complete my assignments in a timely manner. This format of learning is known as “Teacher Directed” or “Teacher Centered” instruction and was fairly standard in classrooms during that era. I vividly recall my struggles and triumphs and numerous days asking myself “When will I ever have to use this as an adult?”, “Why are they assigning so much homework?”, “Why are these exams 3 hours in length?”, and “How can I possibly read 100 pages in this book when I have so much other work to complete tonight.” It often seemed extremely overwhelming.
Fast forward to me as an adult...A few years after college, I decided I wanted to become a teacher (heavily influenced by my aunt who was an English professor for over 30 years). I fulfilled the course and student teaching requirements for obtaining a license to teach in California (learning seemed so much easier than during my youth), and began my teaching career. As an educator, professional development is paramount in order to stay energized and be an effective instructor to your students. I learned from my mentor teacher. I learned from my experiences each year with different classroom dynamics. I learned from co-workers, and I learned from colleagues I interacted with at conferences, seminars and workshops. During my first few years of teaching, I began to truly understand the benefits of continuous learning and decided to become a lifelong learner outside of my profession.
Being a lifelong learner should not be limited to bolstering your professional skill set. It can also contribute to personal development. I enjoy learning new things via blogs, magazine articles, webinars, etc. I have started guitar lessons (I began as a child, but tackle football took precedence), and I recently completed an excellent online course via edx.org titled “Effective Thinking Through Mathematics”. The focus of the course was to understand the elements of thinking effectively in order to become a better problem solver in any facet of one’s life. As a result of completing this course, I now have greater knowledge to share with clients to help them become better thinkers. I addition, I can also implement those thinking strategies in my personal life. Here are five significant benefits I think will result from lifelong learning:
1. Excellent communication skills - Despite society being saturated with electronic communication, it is still imperative to be able to effectively communicate face to face.
2. Initiating a positive change in one’s life - The more you know will enable you to efficiently deal with any dilemmas you may encounter in your life. You may also be able to help someone with a difficult situation in which they are involved.
3. Becoming a more confident person altogether - Many people are confident within the workplace but are the opposite in their personal lives. Lifelong learning can help one become more confident in their personal lives. For example, a person who is not outgoing would greatly benefit from a class on public speaking or one that requires collaborating with others. Perhaps joining a book club which would require providing and reacting to others thoughts.
4. Learning beyond your comfort zone - You may have a narrow scope of interests, but taking a chance at doing something you always thought was silly or something you were afraid to do for fear of failure is a great way to discover new interests and learn in the process.
5. Being comfortable during a discussion of any subject matter - One never knows what topics may arise in various social settings. Possessing a broad knowledge base enables one to intelligently contribute to a conversation that would otherwise be uncomfortable.
Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem. ~ Akan proverb
Are you a lifelong learner? If so, post a comment and share what you are learning!