When did you last catch yourself thinking “I never knew that” or “That’s a useful skill to have developed”? In short, when were you last consciously aware that you had learned something – some knowledge or skill?
The problem with learning is that it’s as natural as breathing. We do it unconsciously most of the time. Like the air around us, or like water, we are surrounded by experiences and sensations most of which pass us by, some of which we notice in passing, but by and large life is moving too fast for us to do more than be vaguely aware of things. That’s both the marvel of humanity, that we can unconsciously absorb so much, and the difficulty – because sometimes it’s necessary to stop, focus and think. We are, it seems, hard-wired to be active and that runs the danger of us confusing action with purpose. There’s that ‘Bias for Action’ which seems to be built into each of us and which it’s so difficult to manage.
In order to develop we have to harness and to manage our learning capabilities.
So, stop, take a few minutes out, and think about the last time you learned something.
- What was it? How would you describe it?
- How did it come about? – as a result of noticing something, seeing or hearing something, or
- As the result of a vague hunch or sensation?
In short, what was the process that you went through?
What does it tell you about yourself? And did it change you in any way? And if so, how?
Questions, questions – but then, that’s part of what learning is about – a bit like a flea bite, once you notice it, you can’t stop scratching at it.