Day 100: 10 Ways to Learn on Purpose

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Great institutions teach, but it's our job to learn!

Educators believe that in order for real learning to take place, there must be a change in a person’s behavior. So the questions come. How much have we changed because of what we have studied? Are we really learning something new daily? Is real change happening in our brains and are we showing it in our behavior? Here are ten ways to learn with the purpose of changing.

1. Start by making a short list of topics you want to know more about and begin studying one of them today. Being intentional about learning will help us start the process.  Only then, can we hope to begin our journey of change.

2. Find an intriguing statement. Write it on an index card, and carry it around for a week. Look at the card and relate it to what you already know.  How did this statement change your thinking?  Make some notes and practice using the statement in your conversations. Reflection on what we have learned is one way to change.

3. Read deeply about how things work in order to explain it to another person. If we can teach it to another person, we know the information.  Getting to this level will take practice, reflection, and assimilation of the new material.  This improves our chances of a change taking place.

4. Listen to an intellectual podcast and take notes. May I suggest TED Talks?  I’ve laughed and learned so much from these podcasts.  Challenging the brain is important for change.

5. Look at something for five minutes without diverting attention from it; then reflect on what you’ve learned. When we focus attention on a specific item, we can learn so much.  This intentional focus causes us to see details we may have never noticed before.  Don’t let the brain wander during the five minutes, and there may be some changes that occur afterwards.

6. Feed your brain by studying a puzzle for a half hour a day. Having a mentally challenging puzzle helps us learn and gives the brain a workout.  Change can happen by exposing our brain to rigor.

7. Try to draw or paint an exact replica of something. This is a way to coordinate the brain with all of the senses.  The more senses we involve in learning, the more likely that change can occur as a result.

8. Take a how-to or an online course. Learning to acquire a skill or an academic subject can be fun.  It is purposeful and requires our full attention at times.  May I suggest a cooking class, a dance class, or some other skill builder?  Taking it with a friend can further assure that change will take place as we converse about the experience.

9. Choose one object in nature and become an expert on that object by studying it fifteen minutes a day. We can’t learn enough from George Washington Carver who spent his life learning about the peanut.  If we all focused on one item, imagine how we could change our world.

10.  Compare and contrast two very different objects. Great inventions happen when we combine different objects.  The thinking behind it requires lots of creative flow.  If we make a practice of it, our creative thinking will improve.

If we want to learn, we certainly can.  One lifetime is quite short, so let’s not waste our opportunities for change.

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” Leo Buscaglia

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4 responses »

  1. Great Ideas. i will try these. My current way to purposefully learn is to red the classics. I’ve read The Red Badge of Courage and Great Expectations. After reading them I read the info from SparkNotes to make sure I got all the main ideas. I am now reading Pilgrim’s Progress and Anna Karenina.

      • I preferred Great Expectations. Since it is a longer book the characters were more thoroughly developed. It was possible to see their growth or how they stayed the same throughout the years and the consequences of those actions.
        Plus The Red Badge of Courage is a war story and I don’t generally like reading/watching war or drowning stories.
        I do think that Pilgrim’s Progress will be my favourite because of the spiritual encouragement I am receiving while reading it.

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