How Do You Learn - What Does This Really Mean?
Learning is a Learned Skill
Know the Difference Between Knowledge and Information
How Do You Learn - What Does This Really Mean?
Learning is personal. We each learn differently. My style of learning works for me. It may not work for you. I was the sort of learner that was “lucky” in terms of I did not have to study. I once had a schoolteacher that gave me an “F” because it was not fair I could pass the test and not do homework, or study.
In the Air Force, I was confronted with the challenge of learning a huge amount of material within one year, eight hours per day (972 hours). I could not take notes; I could not discuss what I was learning with anyone. It was Top Secret. I was told if I did not learn the required information, I would become either an Air Policeman, or a cook. I respect each career path, but it is one I would not choose. I hate cooking and I do not enjoy seeing the “bad” side of people. I enjoy my rose-colored glasses. My glass is almost full!
Most Effective Instructional Method is Drill and Kill
The curriculum was detailed and delivered in a “drill and kill” manner. Drill and kill in its purest essence is a throwback to behaviorist theories of learning. The curriculum is centered primarily on an end assessment. Teaching to the test activities emphasize rote memorization and discouraged critical thinking skills. I learned to NOT ask “what if.”
It was magical when I stopped thinking if an idea or concept applied in different context, or environment was still true. I accepted as presented. When given tests, I simple repeated what I had been told. I was among the 50% that passed.
Working in a classified environment where people live or die based upon ideological perspectives and you do not know who the “bad guys” are – today's good guys are tomorrows bad guys, or they may be working both ends against the middle (double agents, triple, or an opportunist for the highest bidder) – you quickly learn to ONLY do as instructed. This may be to your detriment. You learned never to ask questions. The epitaph of a dead soldier applies: “Mine is not to question why, but to do, or die.”
Given the above, when I was assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Far East and assigned to work in an underground bombproof facility in Hawaii, I managed to attend the University of Hawaii and Chaminade University at the same time while I was engaged in Top Secret activities. It was not for the faint-of-heart.
Transferred Learning Skills to Civilian Life - College is a Piece of Cake!
With the learning skills, I had acquired. College was like taking candy away from a baby. Too easy, it almost seemed to be wrong. I enrolled into two universities and attended both University of Hawaii and Chaminade University at the same time completing both summer sessions, fall and winter semester and the next summer two sessions and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Chaminade University of Honolulu. It took 15 months of college classes to graduate.
Armed with this success and experience, I enrolled in University of Phoenix Accelerated MBA Program. It took one year to graduate and be the only one to achieve “With Distinction.”
Was this a “Fluke?”
I applied the same skills to another Master Degree program from Chapman University. I obtained a MAE-Administrative degree in nine months from start to completion. I passed my private license test without the benefit of attending ground school. There are other examples, but you get the point: I was using my acquired learning skills.
What underlying Learning Principles Worked? What I learned about “learning” is the following:
- Active listen
- Stop the conversation in your head
- Remember the context subject matter was presented
- Do not ask why!
- Asked questions seeking to clarify your understanding of what was said
- Never be afraid to appear stupid by asking questions
- Convert information to knowledge
- Apply what you learned to what you know
- Life learning is a pyramid – apply new knowledge to old knowledge
- Practice and apply what you learned!
The above brief summary is predicated you know and understand what constitutes knowledge. One must know the difference between knowledge and information. There is a huge difference. When one understand their “knowledge,” it is much easier to apply their newly acquired knowledge, rather than “information.
Know the Difference between Knowledge and Information
Information may be meaningless “stuff.” Information is like having an alphabet of plastic letters. Unless the letters are arranged in an ordered fashion, there is no “intelligence,” or knowledge learned.
Knowledge is the systematic synthesis of contextual information. Knowledge is built from information.
If you are like my sister who is smarter than I, but struggles to get her “A’s” because she must understand every nuance, every application of every idea, or concept and why… There is a place in heaven for you! J I have learned an “A” is an “A” and in the process of life the understanding of the “whys” and “what's” will be integrated into your acquired knowledge. Seems much simpler to me…