Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Being a Life Long Learner (Character Trait #9)

As kids go back to school and my teacher-roommate prepares for a year of first graders, Ive been thinking about how learning is such a normal part of life when you are 5, 10, even 20 years old. That is, until you get to be out of school. Unfortunately, after the books are sold back, a graduation is celebrated, and a degree is obtained, its like our brains go on into eternal summer mode where we don't actively pursue learning anything ever again. Adult mush brain is what I like to call this.

Yeakley's second to last chapter in his character book surprised me. A whole chapter devoted to being a life-long learner. So I've been thinking of things that are natural teachers in my life, that take me to school and make me use those brain cells that I may have at one time left in my high school locker. Here's some thoughts:

People: You can learn alot from people if you pay attention and ask questions. The other day I was at the Midas car place getting an oil change, and I asked "What is that plastic looking thingy that is hanging down from the bottom of my car?" The lady said, "Oh actually that is your oil pan shield and it keeps debris from getting into that part of your car. We will tack it back up for you." Huh. Never thought about exploring car parts before. I verified this fact with the all encompassing "Wikipedia." And found it to be true. I think also having mentors in your life or viewing each person you meet as knowledgeable about something has really expanded my learning too. Asking questions of my host family this summer was really interesting. I mean the dad of the family was making a fishing fly reel from scratch! How could I not ask about this!!

People's Responses in Circumstances: Watching how people react to things is also very insightful, especially in being a learner of people and understanding what makes them tick. This summer the family that I lived with responded to evacuations from fire in interesting ways. I learned a lot about what they valued or cared about by what they rescued from their house before it burned down. On a lighter note, going to a family reunion and observing these new faces brought a lot of insight into this particular gene pool.. In a group of 60, there were multiple EMT's and Artists. There were people that loved taking still life photography. There were people of the same stature who walked the same and who liked the same beer. So interesting and such insight into God as creator.

Evaluated Experience: One of his zingers in Yeakley's chapter is that "Experience is not the best teacher.... evaluated experience is the best teacher."  That is so true! This summer, I took time to evaluate my own experiences and reactions to things. Truth be told, I learned alot about myself and how I function when I'm afraid, or insecure or annoyed. Simply but taking time out to journal and pray through my experiences, I am understanding myself better and how I perceive the world.

Exploring Interests: Yeakley discusses this idea too, especially in learning Biblical leadership. Where better to look than the Bible? Or how to Love? Check out Paul's thoughts in 1 Corinthinans 13.  One thing I discovered this summer is how little I think about what I desire or am interested in. Probably, cause those things are also still in my high school locker, next to my Jonathan Brandeis head shot from the not-so-hit-show "Seaquest." (I admit it and claim it. I was a nerd).  I mean really! When did we stop having dreams as adults or exploring things we don't know about? And the best part is we don't have to write a research paper with footnotes on any of it. Are you interested in making cakes? Guarantee there's a book for that. Interested in best places to mountain bike? Books on that. Dance Moves? I have a friend who researches these on YouTube and impresses the masses at weddings. The best way to run coffee shops? I'm sure someone wrote about it! Better yet, ask the local coffeeatier (yep made that word up!). I think we can waste so much time not thinking about anything that we never learn new things.

There's definitely other ways to learn, but these are some that have been helpful as I look for the opportunity to learn right now in life. How do you keep yourself a life long learner?

This blog brought to you by Taylor Swift, and her catchy, although slightly corny, mantra of, "keeping your eye-eyes open."