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To learn or not to learn, that is NOT a question

The brain is hardwired to learn. We are learning all the time. How and when we learn is the question. Here are some recent observations I noticed with friends:

  • One friend who is not tech savvy learned how to share a document on an online conference call

  • A friend and parent of one of my students learned that her son becomes silent when he is anxious or in an unfamiliar situation

  • A friend at the barn learned that her horse is not a good match for her at her stage in life and is going to sell the horse

  • Another friend learned to surrender so she could get well

One obvious pattern that I noticed is that none of the above had an instruction manual. The second thing I noticed is that no one mentioned another person who helped them learn. This is not to say that they did not ask for help! All went to others to help them.

Something happened inside. Some strange mashup occurred. They were open. Number one way not to learn is to be close-minded. But even in this case, there is some learning going on. The brain is learning when to be open or closed to new information.

As an instructor and educator (I do not call myself a teacher), I always remind myself that we all learn differently and at different paces. There is not a right or wrong, good or bad way to learn. As Mr Rogers sang, “sometimes people are good and they do just what they should, but the very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes.”

Watch a horse and see how they learn. They are the best at learning bad behaviors as shown by their human friends. A horse who nips usually is a horse who is given treats when they are anxious because the human is anxious. Now you trained a horse to look for a treat when anxious.

I recently had to learn some new skills on a job. I was filming a live broadcast of a volleyball tournament in California. I had to learn to set up and operate the equipment while on the job. On the first day, a huge storm cloud rolled in. Because I have been on film sets with bad weather, I knew exactly what to do without being told. I learned by error on previous jobs waiting too long and then dealing with consequences. This time I beat the storm before it beat me.

How do you learn? Share your comments below or send me a message. I want to know!

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