Twelve Strategies to Rediscover Your Joy for Learning

Wonder all around

 

Children love to learn.  They see the world as a magical place, filled with countless wonders to investigate with their full focus and attention.  They want to understand everything.  When they don’t know how or why something works, they ask until a satisfactory answer is offered.  There are no limits to the curiosity and imagination a child brings to the task of comprehending their world. 

It doesn’t stay that way, however.

For many, learning became something different as we grew older:  an obligation, a chore, a burden, or even an anxiety.  We were forced to be taught, paradoxically inhibiting our natural desire to learn.   We all had teachers or subjects we didn’t enjoy.  Homework interfered with play and tests induced stress.  What was once a joy became something to hurry through or even avoid. 

Learning also became competitive.  Privileges were sometimes based on academic success.  Bell curve grading scales meant a percentage of every class failed.  If we learned at a faster pace than our peers, we were called gifted or exceptional.  Conversely, if we learned more slowly we were placed in categories named “special” or “remedial.”  These labels eventually defined what and how we learned, and the opportunity to eagerly absorb all we could was subtly altered.  We were categorized, and what we learned was based in part on how others perceived us.

Eventually learning became something sold to us as a commodity.  Our formal education continued if we could afford to go to college.  If we could not then small colleges, technical or trade schools became an option.  Our economic status affected what we learned.  Learning was still competitive, but now money determined who was allowed in the game.

As we entered the work force, we learned a skill or trade to earn a living.  This meant learning what someone else needed us to know for their business to operate successfully.  What and how much we learned enabled us to compete with fellow employees for raises and promotions—a process which correlated directly with our ability and willingness to learn.       

 

 

The faces of learning

Children are naturally inquisitive
Children are naturally inquisitive
And ask questions to learn
And ask questions to learn
We can learn from the young and old alike
We can learn from the young and old alike
Read to learn
Read to learn
Learning is an ingredient for success
Learning is an ingredient for success

It isn't too late


Despite a system that robbed learning of its joy and spontaneity, our sense of wonder doesn’t have to remain missing in action. We can recapture our ability to learn for its own sake. Following these strategies to view learning in a different way can make it enjoyable again.

1. Listen. If we learn to listen first, everything else becomes easier. Adults lose their listening skills through inactivity. Abandon the urge to win arguments; stop the internal dialogue that is formulating your next comment while someone else is speaking; if we truly focus on what another person is saying—our ability to learn has just improved immeasurably.

2. Become curious again. When we were young, curiosity was coupled with imagination and made everything magical. We were eager to try things, and we can regain that quality if we wish to. “Bucket lists” are an acknowledgement that life is rife with mysteries to be discovered, regardless of our age or station. The magic of childhood might eventually be abandoned to adult responsibilities, but our natural interest in life does not need to wane as we grow older.

3. Allow momentum to help you learn. Children race from one occurrence to the next, using their full focus to absorb and make sense of their experiences. They learn in chunks and piece bits of information together to achieve breakthroughs. Crawling eventually leads to walking, and sounds finally become words. Comprehending words leads to reading and writing. The more we learn, the more we see how things interrelate, leading to new breakthroughs.

4. Make learning fun. Learning was fun until we were told that it was hard work. When learning became a serious task with a twelve year obligation, it became less enjoyable. One way to recapture the joy of learning is to link it to things we already find enjoyable. If we build upon interests we already have, we will touch upon new subjects that capture our imagination.

5. Make time for learning. Children spend most of their time in learning. Adults must devote their attention to satisfying basic needs (usually through work), but it is still possible to listen to books on CD while driving to work or cooking dinner. Give up an hour of television to read. Take a class through a university or adult education. Join a club.

6. Read something (anything!). It was estimated that someone who reads ten pages a day (of anything) reads more than 90% of the people in the United States. American culture is fixated on television or videos. Read a book or newspaper for a half hour each day and discover what nine out of every ten people are missing.

7. Ask for help. It is a natural instinct to be helpful. When someone asks for our help or advice, doesn’t it make us feel good? It demonstrates we trust and respect others when we ask them for help and when we do this, we will usually learn everything we wanted to know—and more.

8. Learn from everyone. Life’s lessons come from everywhere. The young remind us how to live with trust and acceptance. The elderly model how to enjoy the moment. Successful people demonstrate the courage to take chances and risk failure. The sick and infirm teach us dignity. If we allow ourselves to learn from everyone, we place no limits on what we might learn.

9. Link learning to success. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are considered two of the best basketball players in the world today. What do they have in common? They both have a coach. They make learning an aspect of their success, even though they are already the best at what they do. No matter what our knowledge and skills might be, someone else will have an insight or experience that can enhance them. Remember that self-improvement is vital to any successful endeavor.

10. Discover your learning style. Do you learn through instruction? This is the style most utilized by public schools. Perhaps you learn by visualization. Artists and creators are often most successful learning through example. Athletes learn through repetition, practicing until an action becomes second nature. It is important to know how we learn to make the process easier. If we can combine multiple learning styles, it becomes even easier.

11. Participate. Get involved with life and learn by doing. There is a huge difference between reading about skydiving and jumping from an airplane. Whatever our passions and interests might be, we limit ourselves if we learn in a passive way. Books or instruction is not enough. We must use what we have learned.

12. View learning as a lifelong process. We are never done learning. Each day offers new experiences and challenges. Each moment provides information. If we always seek opportunities to learn, we will never fail to find them and will never stop learning.



Regain the magic


It is easy for us to become consumed by our daily routines, doing the same things tomorrow we did yesterday and today. We unwittingly eliminate opportunities for learning by performing the same tasks in the same way, perpetuating an endless cycle that prohibits new experiences and opportunities. When this happens, we stagnate. The joy of learning has been lost through inertia. That joy might be replaced with boredom or melancholy.

It has been said that nature abhors a vacuum. When life becomes stagnant, we feel restless and bored. We are dissatisfied. Our need to learn is as real as any biological need and must be fulfilled. Learning adds value to our lives and is one of the greatest gifts we can offer ourselves. It improves our quality of life and provides meaning. We enrich our existence through the opening of new doors. We regain the magic we thought we had lost forever.

C’mon, turn off the television and grab a book.



Comments 34 comments

Keira7 6 years ago

Hi Mike, another very interesting hub, I agree with you we should always keep that joy of learning, its very important to do so.. And you are right its one of the best gift that we could give ourselves Great infos and thanks for sharing. Bless you.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Keira, thank you for reading. A conversation with a parent and her child inspired me to write this. I found the differences in their views about learning to be fascinating. Both parent and child were very educated, but their perspectives on learning differed.

Thanks again.

Mike


Sue Real profile image

Sue Real 6 years ago from So close to Canada, I can smell the bacon.

Well you sound like you know what you are talking about.

I like kids, but never had any. I like to borrow other

people's children so I can give them back at the end of the day. I just started volunteering at New Kids on the Block

they are puppet shows for children to teach tolerance for

other races, creeds, disabilities, etc.

I think that adults could benefit from being a bit more like

children. Keep the good writing coming our way.


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

Mike - A really interesting and well written hub. I enjoy learning every day, especially here on hubpages. I am grateful for all the well written topics.

Being a fan and following people has really increased my topics of interest and encourage me to revisit the learning process that has always been a struggle for me.

You have offered so many important tips and suggestions. Another awesome hub. So happy to be following you.

Sage


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Very good hub, Mike, You've said what I've thought, and said it well. TURN OFF THE TELEVISION FOR AWHILE! We'd be amazed at the world out there.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Sue, thanks for reading.

I agree, adults could benefit greatly from being a bit more like children. My older brother had a wonderfully childlike aspect that was quite endearing. Although he never had any kids, he got along beautifully with them because they trusted him.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Sage, thanks for your comment. I appreciate knowing that something of value might be found in my writing, and I agree--there is so much to learn from all the other magnificent writers here on HubPages. The scope of work found among the writers here has certainly expanded my own interests.

Thank you for your kind words.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Paradise, thanks for reading. With what television has devolved into, it is easier than ever for me to turn the TV off....

There is a pretty interesting world out there, if we took the time to see it.

Thanks again, I am grateful for your kind words.

Mike


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Very good points you make Mike. Howver, the success of Discovery Channel and others similar would tend to indicate that all is not lost and people actually WANT to learn. TV is not all bad :-)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

De Greek, thanks for reading. I would certainly not argue the points you are making here--I am totally convinced that people want to learn. I do believe we have been conditioned to believe (perhaps unintentionally) that learning is not fun.

I also don't believe all TV is bad. I do think TV should not be a kid's (or an adult's) best friend. Television has its place, but it shouldn't crowd out other things.

Thanks for your comments and insights, they are very much appreciated.

Mike


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

You know Mike..you are a very intelligent man! I absolutely loved the pictures also. :)

Your 1-12 points are perfect. I love to read! I can't tell you how much I love to read,learn....really loved the hub so much!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghosty, thanks for your comments, and for the compliment, as well. I get tongue-tied sometimes when someone pays me a compliment, but your kind words are appreciated.

I am pleased that you found my hub enjoyable. My home is filled with books, and I love to read, also. I don't read quite as much as I used to, but I try. I am glad you liked the pictures, also....

Thanks again, Ghosty. Come back any time--you are always welcome.

Mike


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

I like the last and the first one the mostest! listen and understand that it is a lifelong process, we stop learning when we go back to HIM -- our CREATOR. You impressed me with the quality of your hub, Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, thank you so much for your comments--you are very kind. You are absolutely correct, we learn throughout life. When we return to our Creator, the mysteries are finally solved.

Thanks again. Take care.

Mike


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Thanks - I enjoyed reading this. Very important points. My favourite being "be curious". There's a sort of underlying excitement. (well, for me anyway).

It's so nice that we learn new things in life everyday. :)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Mike -this was a perfect post on the value of lifelong learning. Thank you.

I'm curious though. You mentioned in response to one of the comments that the parent and child who gave you the inspiration to write this hub had very differing perspectives on learning.

Who believed what?


msryder profile image

msryder 6 years ago

Thanks a lot Mike - I think also necessity can sometime spark joy of learning. When were very young love is a fuel, the best and most powerful fuel, and now that were older fear is a fuel, somewhat twisted but a fuel all the same. Joy is just an engine and what's your fuel?


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Lady_E, thanks for reading. There is an excitement that comes from learning. I think the Internet itself is a testament to the joy of learning, as millions of folks log on every day in search of--something. Anything.

Thanks again, your comments are greatly appreciated.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

drbj, thanks for reading.

The conversation that fueled this hub was sparked by a mother encouraging her son to read more, only to have him assert that he didn't want to unless it helped his grade in school. This is a very bright child, but learning turned into a means toward an end instead of an end in itself. I thought it was slightly sad that the mother was struggling to coax him back toward learning for its own sake. For my part, I've known this family for years and remembered when his natural curiosity was enough--a grade was off the radar.

That started the wheels turning in my mind regarding what learning is, relative to what it ultimately becomes. Hopefully it can become what it should be once again for this boy.

Thanks for reading.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

msryder, thanks for reading.

Your question is a good one, and I would have to say curiosity is the fuel. Curiosity keeps us searching. It keeps us learning. To remain curious is to learn throughout our lives.

Thanks for your comments, they are much appreciated.

Mike


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State

This is a great Hub! We have a common belief, As we grow older we lose our sense of wonder and drive to become better and know more. Can you imagine how more rounded people would be if we continued to learn and absorb information at the same pace we do as children?

It seems that the more we are taught the less we believe we need to know, and the less effort we give to changing, learning and experiencing new things. What a shame- how ignorant adults can be.

I like your list of tips to stay engaged in the learning process. This is really a fantastic, well organized, nicely thought out hub. Rate Up and Stumbled!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

HC, thank you so much for your comments. You are correct, the more we're taught, the less we think we need to know. I even knew an extremely educated older man who confessed that he believed it wasn't necessary at his age to learn anything more. I think he realized the fallacy of such a claim, but just to say it out loud demonstrates how much we resist learning as we grow older.

May we never lose the joy of learning. We need the magic.

Oh, and thank you very much for rating and stumbling me. It is greatly appreciated.

Mike


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

What does this mean ...everywhere I look people are saying thank you for stumbling me? What the heck...I have been stumbled over and over in my life and I have never thanked anyone for stumbling me! What the heck does this mean? Somebody tell me!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

Good night Mike--you must be busy tonight..:*(


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghosty! Thanks for stopping by. You know, you ask a very interesting question. For most people online, stumbling might mean creating a link on Stumbled Upon. But not for Mike! Never for Mike! For me, the answer is far more chilling.

I was walking through a dark alley, taking a short cut to my car, when I was suddenly surrounded by a menacing group of young men. I tried to run, but they threw rolls of toilet paper at my feet, knocking them out from under me. I stumbled and fell into the trash cans, to their howling delight. I rose and tried to escape, but again was bowled over by flying toilet paper rolls aimed at my feet. Similar to a fraternity initiation, the humiliation was only going to end by my saying, "Thank you for the stumble. May I have another?"

I hope your day was a good one.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghosty, I just missed you!


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

You're right. I think the thrill of learning has left many of us as adults. I think as long as we are curious and wanting to grow and learn, we are truly alive and not just on "auto-pilot". I believe sometimes we get caught up in working and taking care of our families that we forget to ask questions and seek answers. Very nice hub. Thought provoking.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Lovelypaper, nice to find you here tonight. We do get caught up in life's chores and miss out on some of the mysteries we might otherwise notice. I am trying to see things differently. (HubPages actually does a nice job inspiring curiosity, in fact.) I definitely still want to grow.

Thanks again.

Mike


rml 6 years ago

You've written a very inspirational article. I was particularly intrigued by your analysis of what learning becomes as we grow older. The idea that learning first becomes competitive and later a commodity is quite profound. We should all strive to maintain our curiousity for life and make learning an adventure. It is never too late to learn.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

rml, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your critique of my analysis, it is very gracious. I agree, it is never too late to learn.

Thanks again.

Mike


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Wonderful advice, Mike! I hope I never lose my thirst for knowledge.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

habee, thanks for reading! One of the nicest things about fellow hubbers is that they share that thirst for knowledge.

I am appreciative of your comments. Thanks again.

Mike


Tusitala Tom profile image

Tusitala Tom 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Excellent advice, Mike, and delivered so well. It's a pity that the main enphasis in our school years does not advocate life-long education, rather than just preparing us for a 'useful part' in a world dictated by ecomonics. Still, we are moving forward. Not so many children sweeping chimneys and working in coal mines as there used to be in Charles Dicken's day. Maybe a few more hundred years we'll get the education system right.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Tusitala Tom, thanks for reading. I agree with your regrets about the focus of education--for the past 30-40 years, a college education has been about securing the biggest salary possible after graduation. Prior to that, there was some emphasis on a well-rounded education. That is gone and largely forgotten, and knowledge for its own sake is almost seen as a waste of money. It's good that the children aren't sweeping chimneys so much any more, but their first home doesn't need to be worth $750,000, either. Hopefully someday we will indeed get it right, and until then we simply have to rely on those who dare to think and dream.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike

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