The Concept of Learning
What distinguishes human beings from other creatures is the characteristic of learning. Though animals and birds have some inborn skills, they do not learn acquired skills except a few for which their genes and physical structures allow. Not only this skill distinguishes human beings from animals, but it also creates difference among human beings. Those who learn more, get more achievements and distinguished status as compared to those who do not focus on learning new skills.
Significance of learning
Learning lies at the heart of personality growth, self-esteem and self- actualization.
It is a source of satisfaction, pleasure and fulfilment: One enjoys more in life when one keeps on learning new skills, knowledge and abilities.
It is one of the sources of confidence and happiness.
Learning new skills opens new avenues of opportunities for a learner.
It may also ensure financial success and freedom.
It leads to progressive lifestyle.
One can bring improvements in one’s efficiency and productivity at work.
One can make contributions to community through new skills and capabilities.
Some fundamental facts about learning
1. Learning process is not always joyful; it can be very painful. It is a mixture of a lot of frustration, ambiguity, confusion and uncertainty. It is uncomfortable. No one can learn while being in one’s comfort zone; you would have to come out of your comfort zone. Be ready to come out of it if you really want to learn new things and achieve more.
First when you step out your comfort zone, you feel uncomfortable, but you start learning. You are confused, uncertain and bored. Once you learn the basics, you start taking pleasure in learning new knowledge or skill. It is when a new comfort zone is created. This stage comes when you feel excitement while learning or using new skill. Someone has rightly said, “If you want to expand your limits, push them.”
“The real comfort lies out of comfort zone.”
So, just love this kind of discomfort. Do not remain in the comfort zone. Move out of it and explore new aspects of your personality.
2. The learning process is boring as well. You do not enjoy it often. However, this boredom dies down as you gradually move to the next levels or steps of the learning process. After some time, there comes a stage when this boredom is replaced by enjoyment and excitement. Following are the different stages of learning process:
3. You face the fear or feeling of being looked or judged as an amateur or awkward person. This feeling is very lethal as it is a major hindrance to learning new skills or knowledge. Many students simply do not ask questions because they fear that they would be judged as dumb and unintelligent by their peers. Many persons do not venture on learning new skills because they cannot face the feelings or the fears that they would be judged as stupid and awkward. So, my advice to you is: go through this fear and feeling. Face this awkwardness. Be brave. Learn. Do not fear. If you still feel the fear, overcome it. Face it. Do it.
4. Before learning a new skill, the learner should be motivated enough to go through the ordeal involved in the process. If you are lacking in that motivation, you are more likely to quit the learning process.
So, the question arises: From where can we get this motivation?
The answer is very simple. You can get the desired motivation by simply understanding the utility or significance of that skill in your life. If you are convinced that learning this skill or capability is relevant to the achievement of the goals which you have set for yourself, this would bring meaning and energy to you. You would have to discover the relevance of the skill being learned to your life. If you are not sure about the possible benefits of learning new concepts, ideas and skills, you would be least motivated to learn. So, it is very important to ask yourself before starting to learn new skills. Is it really important for me? Does it work? Will it give me any benefit? Why it is necessary for me to learn this skill and invest my time, money and energy in this process? No one wants to waste one’s time, energy and resources to learn any skill or knowledge whose relevance to one’s job, professional life and personal life is not well established in one’s mind.
5. There is another aspect that is more important, and that is: one should explore in one’s mind the following:
i. What I want from my life? Do I want to enjoy my life? What are my desires and dreams? What are my goals? Which thing gives me more satisfaction, happiness and excitement?
ii. What skills should I learn to fulfil my dreams and goals? What are the skills relevant to my professional or personal life?
6. Each person has his own pace of learning new skills and capabilities. Some are quick, some are slow, and it is natural. Do not get frustrated with your slow pace of learning. Do not rush the lessons. Stop and relax. Everyone does not learn the same way and at the same pace. You all have your own way to learn new knowledge and skill at your own pace. So, be at peace with yourself while learning something new. Accept it. Do not rush. Split the contents/lessons into smaller chunks, and learn those one by one. What matters is one should completely internalize the skill and apply it to one’s life. When you apply the skill learnt to your life, it becomes your second nature.
7. It may be surprising for you to know that majority of persons learn new skills through ‘hit and trial’ method. You make mistakes and learn lessons but you do not quit. There is a miracle effect attached to practice and repetition. It has been rightly said, “Practice makes man perfect.” With practice and repetition, you learn so many new things and features which no other source can make you learn. So, practice is the perfect trainer.
8. While learning new concepts and ideas, be mentally present. Do not let the flight of imagination drag you away from the learning process. This is a major problem with most of the students that they are not mentally present when important instructions are being given. This often happens in classrooms. In this scenario, either you are at a different place mentally or wandering in your past or future. Be in present while learning new skills. Following are some important tips for you to overcome this problem:
I. Be away from all kinds of distractions, e.g. unnecessary electronic gadgets, using social media, etc. `Do not sit close to your friends in the classroom.
ii. Take notes, think and ask questions. Engage the instructor or teacher. Show your interest in the subject. Remember that no question is stupid. Keep in mind that you will not be judged by the questions you ask. So be bold enough to speak your mind and get the confusion clarified.
iii. Sit in a seat close to the instructor, teacher or trainer. Do not be a backbencher.
iv. You may record the instructions for future reference, if possible.
v. Last but not least, go through the relevant reading material or content one day prior to the lecture so that you may have a fair idea of what is being taught.
9. You should combine theory and practice together in the learning process as this would bring quality to the learning process and make it easier. When you are learning a new skill practically, be connected with the theory. Read more about it. Combination of theory and practice leads to efficient skill development.
The key is: never quit learning. It will add to the quality of your life.
The writer is a civil servant, belonging to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP).
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