Best way to learn

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What is the best way to learn?

I am asking this question as I am starting a blog site without having any prior knowledge of blogging. So yes, the question was prompted by my new task, which feels both exciting and somewhat intimidating right now. I am excited about the possibility of sharing ideas in a blog. And I’m nervous about this new space, which I must learn to navigate and familiarize myself with until I can call it my own. But aren’t those same feelings experienced by any learner at the start of an engaging assignment? And if that is the case, how important are such feelings for truly engaging in learning and for making it endure?

I would argue that it’s essential to feel both excited and anxious when starting a task which requires new learning. The excitement should stem from the belief that completing the task will make a real difference. And the anxiety should derive from the expectation to encounter challenges along the way. Together these emotions will stimulate your mind and will ignite your learning. But will they be enough to keep the fire burning? How can one maximize learning?

Most often what works best is to engage directly with the task, to learn by doing. This approach allows you to explore topics and tackle challenges in a focused, objective-driven fashion. It allows questions to arise naturally while you try to solve the issues at hand and get closer to the desired outcome. It gives your learning a clear purpose by keeping your target always in sight.

And how does one measure the quality of learning? How do we know how well we performed on a task? Ideally the outcome of the task should speak for itself. If the outcome does end up making a real difference, as acknowledged by people competent in evaluating it, or by its potential users, you know you did well. You know that learning was productive when it was brought to fruition. Having something usable to show, some tangible results, will be the best indicator for the quality of your learning.

A familiar adage says: “Tell me and I’ll forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll learn”. The truth in this saying is more profound and impactful than many of us realize, and it distills perfectly my ideas on learning. What better way to launch my blog?

 

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