How do you learn anything?

I have been pondering this question after a recent conversation with a primary school teacher who is upgrading her credentials so that she can work with children who have learning disabilities. We had a lengthy conversation about systems and cycles of poverty and how important it is for parents to advocate for their children. I was recalling my own two children and how the school system was tricky for both of them but for completely different reasons. I think many of their challenges came from not fitting in a system that has been designed to accommodate a certain type of child and learner. 

A few months ago someone asked me "How do you learn?" We were talking more about my recognition that I had reached a point of completion (for now) with all the unlearning I have had to do in a specific area of my life. In this current season my focus has shifted to constructing rather than deconstructing. I like to frame it as a time when I am moving towards something instead of moving away from limiting beliefs. He asked me, “so how do you learn?”  It is a good question to ask someone who considers herself a learning catalyst! I’ve thought about how people learn and change for most of my career. 

Here are some suggestions to help you answer this question:

1. Forget Learning styles - I still hear many people say, “I am a visual learner” or “I am auditory learner”.  New research has debunked those old ways of thinking (now referred to as neuromyths).  Read this article for more. Or just do some reading on learning styles.

2. Reflect on how you learn. Think about something you have learned recently. How do you know you learned it? How do you define learning? Do you learn different things in different ways? For example - if you were asked to cook something you had never made before how would you go about it?  What if you were asked to do something that required more complexity?  How do you approach it? A good example would be how do you answer the question, “how do you learn?” 

Why is this important? It is important if you want to change and grow in your life or if you want to experience transformation. Understanding how you learn or at the very least becoming aware that learning is much more complex than you may have considered, can help you set realistic expectations and begin to create the conditions that are conducive to transformational change in your life.

I love Sir Ken Robinson on education. Here's a video that I recently watched. Let's not confuse education and learning though!