I love learning, new things, a new twist on old things, new concepts, new dimensions. Learning new things doesn’t mean I have to agree with everyone or everything; just be willing to see, hear and consider what I’ve not seen and heard before. I can still always say “no”. I love receiving incoming missiles of new information and revelation that can be used for practical living, and just for fun too. I agree that a mind is a terrible thing to waste (and so is time). When I returned to school to study psychology I loved having more to do than I could handle. I’d rather have a plate with too much food than not enough for guess what? I could always take a doggie bag and munch again later. J This is how I feel about learning. Surround me with books and information and I can munch on them forever.
Learning is not to be confused with memorizing. Even though I believe in memorization, I don’t live by it. For me and to me memorizing information is only temporary and lasts for a short amount of time. For instance, one subject we studied in high school was “government”. Well, I’m not a very political person, don’t like politics nor the spirit of politicians. But I know that if I am going to become a well-rounded person I need to break through many of the topics I don’t like, and decide to learn about them and identify what I dislike about them as well as how they apply to real people and ordinary living. Or is that ordinary people and real living? Hmmmm.
Back to the government class – I managed to finish the class at the end of my senior year with five A’s and one B for the entire year. I recall studying for the tests the day and night before taking them, and the morning of. I would go to school hours early, and thank God that my government class was the first class of the day, and I would polish up on everything. Then I would go in and ace the tests. But if you asked me a day or two later what many of the topics meant that were on the test and how they could benefit me and others even now, I must be honest and tell you I don’t have much to say. Why not? Because all I did was memorize the information. I did not try to learn it for understanding and application to life. It was not my “favorite” topic even though the teacher was great and I had great classmates too. (My favorite class was band. J But not for this blog space.)
Hmmmmm again. Five m’s this time. Memorization comes in handy when you need to ingest and retain information right away and for short-term situations. But if you want the incomings (I love the lingo of military, police and sci fi movies) to stick to your bones (not my thighs please) so you may be able to use the information again and again in the future, then this is where learning comes in.
For instance, when I’m trying to learn new songs I will write out the lyrics so I can see them – take a photo of them with my eyes so they can be downloaded to my brain as a photograph. I also read them aloud to myself without the music and learn the story in the lyrics. I then study the song to try to understand from where the writer is coming, and to try and relate to him or her. I try to establish a relationship with the song through the lyrics as well as the music, but also the writer. I invest time and concerted effort into the song.
Now I don’t want to have a long-term relationship with every song I may sing because sometimes I’m asked to sing songs that on the surface seem to be “okay” but the spirit behind the artist singing and marketing the song is of such that I don’t want to become intimate with. So I relegate that song to be memorized and not learned. I may wait for the last possible minute to work on it, or I may carry it around on paper even to the performance so I may deliver it well, but when the performance is over, so is my relationship to the song. Memorization is for short-term relationships while learning is for life-long ones, in my opinion. (After all, this is my blog. Thanks for reminding me.)
There are so many methods for learning, and I enjoy learning new methods for learning too. This keeps me on my toes and keeps life exciting. Subjects that intimidated me in school as a youngster now appeal to me because I see from a distance cognitively, and up close and personal experientially that I will benefit from them the more I know. For instance, marketing and economics (Econ is what my fellow geeks in school would call it). Now I must understand these topics in order to understand why some products do well in certain geographical regions and not at all in others. Also investing and investments. Ugh! But hey, I know when the compound interest begins to roll the dice in my favor, I will be glad I invested (pun intended) my resources. Anyhoooo . . .
To put in my time and money (especially when it comes to attending a university for instance, or other learning institution) means I am serious about what I’m uh . . . learning. Education is too expensive just to relegate to the top half of the brain through memorization. Aren’t you glad that your doctor, lawyer, firefighter, and other serious public servants are required to put in the time and energy to LEARN rather than just memorize information?
While studying to become a nurse, we worked with cadavers. Yeah, cold dead peoples' bodies. We had to learn all the organs and veins and arteries, what they did, to what they were connected, abnormalities, why they happened and so on and on. It was so much information to learn in such a short amount of time that I burned out with the cooking. J I knew that I needed to learn the information and why I needed to learn it and that it would benefit me later in life for life . . . but I was tired of learning something I was not excited about learning. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy learning and understanding how the body works etc. but at that level, I don’t think that’s what I need to know in order to do what I desire to do, now that I know what I desire to do (“to thine own self be true” means you must put in some time learning YOU).
You see, the fun part of learning, (can you say “art class”?) is learning information about topics which not only will benefit you for life, but which you enjoy. Like I said before, sometimes it is necessary to learn things that are “boring” but we don’t have to build our lives around learning boring things. We just need to be willing to eat some peas, okra, brussel sprouts and other fibrous green veggies that we hated as children, in order to nourish our bodies in a healthy way. Boring but important subjects would fall into the category of “vegetables I hated as a child”. LOL!! Yes, like politics. They’re not going to go away and we will be affected by what we know and don’t know. (Ignorance is not bliss. We need to know what a “Stop Sign” means so the end of our life will not come when we’ve only just begun.) It’s just how will we be affected and what will we be equipped to do about “it” when the rubber meets the road and stuff starts to hit the fan?
The art of learning has within itself the willingness to be stretched beyond one’s current capabilities to embrace new experiences and the willingness to change one’s mentality to accommodate the presence of new information as a reality, and not just as abstract principles on paper (or the computer screen). To be willing to let go of the “old” to receive the new, especially when the old has already fulfilled its purpose and it’s expiration date has come and gone. When we learn something, we never lose its benefits no matter how old the lesson(s). Au contraire. Instead we build upon it, and it makes room for new learning. We mature through it , because of it, and by it.
Sure enough the art of learning does involve change and if we are afraid of change, then more than likely we may not be having much real fun in life. I have never been one who could draw beautiful pictures, but I do love colors, crayons, magic markers, paint etc. I loved finger painting because I didn’t have to explain what I was creating. Because I did not know. LOL!! I loved it when the art teacher would change us from one form of art expression to another for it allowed me to investigate what was hidden inside of me that I enjoyed and would be willing to become vulnerable to expose to the world. Of course children laugh at what they don’t understand, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. We are no longer children, but laughter is good for the soul and body. (Learn to laugh at yourself, in a nice and healthy way.) Change is a part of the art of learning which enables us to move from what we’re not comfortable doing to what we finally discover to be our niche.
Learning has so many colors. Maybe you learn best by seeing, your cousin learns best by hearing, and your aunt learns best by touching. It doesn’t matter how you learn, it just matters that you keep an open mind and a willing heart to learn and to use different methods for learning. Repetition is a part of learning too, but some people say they only need to hear or see something one time, and they believe they “have it”. That’s cool too. Whatever floats your boat, but just don’t ask me to believe that you will make a good doctor, for I would prefer that you take a second and a third look before making certain decisions, and incisions. J
Some of my favorite Bible verses are found in the book of Proverbs: “Get skillful and godly Wisdom, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation); do not forget and do not turn back from the words of my mouth. Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)! [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.] And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation).” (Proverbs 4:5-7) [Amplified Bible] ((Pretty repetitive isn't that one?) Some people believe that if you speak about verses from the Bible that they only apply to things connected to the church, but this is not so. The God of the Bible created the universe and all knowledge and wisdom originates with Him. He knows marketing and economics, nursing and psychology better than all of us. Wall Street has nothing on Him (“Can’t touch this”!). He is our sea and wealth of knowledge and understanding. Wisdom was with Him when He created the world, so if we want to learn anything well that we learn, we need to consult the Greatest Teacher and Artist in the universe.
The artwork our Creator has given to us is for our living and for our enjoyment, and its purpose is for us to spend time learning Who He is and how much He loves us. The art of listening is to aid us in the art of learning, and the art of learning is for the art of living. Listen well, learn well. Learn well, live will. Stay tuned for part three: The Art of Living.