I’ve been in the Teaching-Learning Business for most of my life. So, when an undergraduate group at The Ohio State University asked me to make a presentation that summarized what I had learned over the course of my career, talking about what I had learned about Learning was a natural.
Truth #1: Learning is Innately Pleasurable. You may scoff. You may disagree…and in a way, you are right. That’s because too many schools and too many teachers have given Learning a bad rap and they have taken all the fun out of Learning. However, just think about very young children whom you know and have known. They are avid Learners— they encounter new “stuff” every day… they suck it up like little mental vacuums–and they are proud and delighted with all their new-found skills, abilities, and knowledge. They know how much fun it is to be a Learner! It really is fun to learn.
Truth #2: Learning is All Yours. Learning is a truly rare commodity in that it is something that is completely yours and nobody can take it away from you–ever!
Truth #3: Learning is Uniquely Your Own. It’s a huge part of what makes you the individual you are and aspire to be.
Truth #4: Learning is Multi-Dimensional. There is no single way to learn. There is considerable literature from mid- 20th century devoted to Learning styles. Are you more of an Oral Learner or a Visual Learner? Or some combination? Do you want your new ideas neatly packaged, or would you like to discover them yourself? Is your attention to Learning achieved better in the evening rather than in the morning? If reading is a chore, audio and audio-visual materials are widely available. Your local librarians are wonderful sources for lots and lots of “stuff”. If they don’t have it in their collection, they will find it for you and get it to you in an astonishingly short period of time.
Truth #5: Learning is a Power Tool. This is so obvious; I almost didn’t include it. Learning leads to Knowledge. And, as we all know, Knowledge Is Power.
Truth #6: Learning Opens Doors. This is a purely practical reason for Learning. Any job-hunter knows that.
Truth #7: Learning Limits are Boundless. “I’m too old to Learn.” No, you’re not! That’s a cop-out. Having been an “Advanced Learner” myself, I can attest to the fact that we older people Learn differently than our young classmates, and it may take a bit more time and effort. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!
Truth #8: Learning Changes with Age/Experience. What you take away from a Learning Experience depends a great deal on the life situation that you bring into it. The more life experience you have, the more richness you will gain from the Learning Experience.
Truth #9: Learning Opportunities Abound. The impact of the Internet on the availability of Learning Opportunities can’t be overstated. You can find out “How to do” almost anything from plumbing to pot roast. You can take a lesson or two in knitting. You can take a course in almost anything. You can earn a certificate in an area of special interest. You can even earn an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited college or university—ALL ONLINE.
Truth #10: Learning is Infinitely Portable. You can take your Learning with you wherever you go, and it doesn’t even need a suitcase!
Dr. Patricia (Pat) Schwirian’s lifelong work with health care and the aging provides a unique perspective. She recently agreed to work with Alber Enterprise Center, facilitating programs such as the Elder Care Certificate. Her experience includes years of teaching, research, publications, and consultation in health and aging, and she is Faculty Emerita for The Ohio State University.