Today’s daily prompt: What’s your learning style? Do you prefer learning in a group and in an interactive setting? Or one-on-one? Do you retain information best through lectures, or visuals, or simply by reading books?
Learning style? Most of us learn every which way. We learn by observation; by example, good or bad; we learn when we’re alone; we learn in a group; we learn from reading; we learn from nature. Learning happens to us whether we are actively seeking knowledge at the moment or not. You’re going along watching life unfold and all of a sudden here’s a lesson right before your eyes.
I learned a lesson one morning out in the garden watching my cat play with a mouse, and even wrote a post about it here: Kamikaze Mouse.
The most important thing about learning is, do we retain the lesson and apply it usefully? My mother-in-law talked about one of her sisters who would touch the old wood stove. And get burned. Then she’d touch it again—and get burned. Before long she’d touch it again—and get burned.
Just to see if it was still hot? Who knows what was going on in her little mind. Normally pain is an effective lesson, but Mom thought her sister was just that stubborn, she insisted on winning the battle with the old stove. Her first lesson wasn’t retained or applied to save her from further pain.
Which in itself is a lesson in human nature. Aren’t we all like that at times. I know I should leave it alone, but… Or as one wise soul once said, “A fool is someone who keeps doing the same thing over and expecting different results.”
For some reason this prompt brought to my mind the words of the Apostle James:
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” James 1:23
This man faced reality, then turned away and promptly forgot. You could say he caught the lesson in a flash, but chose to not hold onto it. Opportunities to learn are there for us every day, but it’s our choice if we file them in our brain and our lives benefit from them.
But the question asks, what’s my preferred learning style. I don’t know if I have one; I’ll take it anyway it comes. There are times I set out to learn a new thing, and various methods work at various times. Like the time I decided to learn to draw. The method I initially chose fizzled, so I went with Plan B. (Read about it here.)
What I am realizing is that I’m older and lessons don’t stick like they used to. One morning I was with a friend working at a Food bank in Montreal. Another woman working there was Romanian, so I asked her how to say hello in Romanian. She told me, and even repeated it several times, but ten minutes later I’d forgotten. The sound was completely unfamiliar to my English mind and I couldn’t retain it.
So I asked her again. And forgot again in a few minutes. Thanks be, she was a patient teacher! I asked her about twenty times that morning until finally I was able to connect her word in my mind with two other similar-sounding familiar words. It’s this word plus this word put together with a French twist. Then I remembered!
I find listening to someone else tell their own story is a great way to learn. For example, I learned about the Great Depression, or “the Dirty Thirties,” by reading a book, partly memoir, by James H Gray called The Winter Years. Intrigued by his experience, I felt a strong nudge to write a children’s book about this era. (Someday!) Our children can barely comprehend what it took the great-grands to survive those years and give us the world we’re in now. They don’t either comprehend just how fragile the good times really are.
To this end I’ve studied up on the “Roaring Twenties,” Prohibition, and the factors that precipitated the stock market crash in October 1929. And I’ve learned a lot. So in this case my lessons have come from books.
Actually, over my whole lifetime I’d have to say that reading has been my preferred learning medium.