When we think of education, we might automatically think about school. But learning is not limited to what happens in a building during certain times of day or months of the year. Opportunities to learn are all around us!
4-H’s motto is learn by doing. 4-H members select a topic they are interested in and complete a project, which is a set of self-directed learning experiences. These learning activities help them to master some new knowledge and learn some new skills.
In this time when some aspects of our lives have been restricted by the coronavirus and the stay-at -home orders, schoolwork has switched to home and students have substituted the dining room table for their desk.
In spite of these challenges, we have some great examples of learning. For some, that means learning some new technology, like Zoom, to conduct our meetings (although five Zoom meetings in a day is a bit much!). Another example of learning is using skills you already have, but they are put to use in new ways. A wonderful example is our 4-H Health Heroes. These teen leaders are using the skills they learned in 4-H sewing projects to sew masks for themselves and family members and for essential workers on the front lines.
Throughout our life we will be confronted with opportunities to learn and to apply what we’ve learned. Learning is not over when we complete high school. Ultimately, we want to be lifelong learners.
When I think about a lifelong learner, I think of my maternal grandmother, who survived the flu pandemic in 1918. She lived in northern Italy and was 21 in 1918; she came to the U.S. in 1920. Like many immigrants, she had to learn a new language and a new way of life. Many of my favorite childhood memories are of her telling me stories about when she was a girl growing up in Italy. One saying that she had was “Impara l’arte e mettila da parte.” A rough translation is “learn an art and put it aside,” but the literal translation does not communicate the meaning behind it, which is that what you learn no one can take from you, and it will not go to waste. Although she had only completed a 4th grade education, she was a very wise woman. When I was having a difficult day in school, I would remember her words, and I still remember them to this day.
The changes in our lives during the current pandemic have required us to learn new things, haven’t they? If you’re looking for some ideas, how about taking advantage of some of the perfect Stay-at-Home 4-H project books that are now available as PDFs online. And today’s 4-H Journal Page has some questions to get you thinking about how you learn.