The ability to think is perhaps the greatest privilege of the human race. It is a great thing. It leads to creativity, progress, and, most importantly of all, knowledge. Knowledge is what makes a person great. The ability, the willingness and the capacity to understand all the complex intricacies, the mechanics and the reasons behind all the things that happen around us are qualities that we should all be striving towards.
Knowledge is Greatness
And it is in that simple fact that we need to take a moment to indeed think about how knowledge arrives to us. For it is not inbuilt in our genes. Certainly the capacity to acquire knowledge is inherently there – that, after all, is the great thing that makes us human. But actual knowledge – the hard facts, truths and theories of all things, great or small, scientific or social, can only be absorbed over a period of time and experience. Knowledge about anything cannot simply be implanted into our brains and our beings, we must search for it. Indeed, we must have the desire to learn, and, furthermore, we must understand that learning never stops. We must realise that wherever we are and whatever we are doing we are constantly absorbing, evaluating and learning new things from our own lives. Perhaps most importantly of all, we must realise that not all learning comes from books, schools and universities – your best teacher will always be yourself and what you learn, if you keep yourself sharp to your own experiences, from your own life.
It Starts with our Attitude
Learning is a process. It always has been. We didn’t learn to run before we learnt to walk, and before that we had to learn to crawl. But, once we’ve learned to run, we can then proceed to further our knowledge of our own physicality – we learn to jump, to climb, to swing, to cartwheel, to explore. We want to learn how to do these incredible things. And it is from that desire – and only from there – that the process of learning can keep perpetuating itself. What we need to remember is that it is in our attitude towards learning, and furthermore in our attitude towards sharing and spreading the knowledge that we acquire, that will determine how great our individual experiences as human beings will be.
The Best Learning Happens Outside of the Classroom
The most important time, however, for ensuring this favourable attitude towards learning is in place comes after we have finished our formal educations. Many people can carry a good attitude with them as they progress through university or other vocational college, but, once they have acquired the desired certificate, feel that they have reached the end, and sometimes even the pinnacle, of their learning life and process. This just simply isn’t true.
Talk to any driving instructor, and indeed many a driver, and they will tell you that you only really start learning to drive once you’ve passed your test and are set free to apply your newly acquired authority on the roads without supervision. Only then can you start to gain the experiences and learn the knowledge that is required of you to become a confident and safe road user.
A Lifelong Process
Learning is not just a process, but a lifelong process. Certificates, qualifications and degrees are a part of this process, but they are really just the start, and rather than instilling the attitude that once the class, lecture or e-course has finished that learning finishes too, what these things really should be doing is motivating us to learn further. How can we apply the knowledge that we have learnt as we continue to boldly take the next steps through our ever-changing lives? And we have to realise, indeed we have to learn, that the connections we make from our already acquired knowledge to the new knowledge we are searching for may seem obscure.
Learn to Apply Your Knowledge
Caution may be learned from running too fast and falling over when young, though this same caution can now be applied when behind the wheel of a car. Learning how to take notes in university lectures can now be applied in the workplace, or as part of an eLearning initiative. Anything you learn to do on your laptop or desktop at home, is now a skill that can be transferred to your smartphone or tablet, so you can continue learning on the move. And knowledge need not and is not restricted to the technical or physical world. For in all of our personal interactions we are learning the values and experiences of human relations. And, what is more, we should always be open to this learning, we should always be learning the value of learning, and learning that we can learn from everything and everyone we encounter, and that it never ever stops.
Learning is not limited to a single subject. It is a process, an ever-expanding web that surrounds everything that is human, and everything that is not. The knowledge you can acquire in a lifetime is only limited by your own attitude to learn, and we should all embrace the knowledge that learning lasts forever.