Step away from the book

Do you ever feel like you’re overwhelmed by all the things that you need to learn? Everyday you hear of a great new technique or receive a new book recommendation. What do you mean you haven’t read “Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow”? Next you’ll be saying you haven’t read Milton, or Proust.

Years ago most people were taught by rote. The system appeared to work well, certainly at least some people did come away with a broad bed of knowledge. More recently it seems that a shift has taken place. Some, but probably not enough, kids are learning for themselves. This approach isn’t entirely new, in 1907 the first Montessori school opened, allowing children to learn through play. More recently unschooling has gained popularity, allowing kids to have the space to think for themselves and guide their own learning. These kids are likely to be far better equipped for the world around them because they are curious and used to working out what the answer is, and why.

Now consider your own education. Why do you read all those books? Are you genuinely interested in what they have to say? Do they provide a particular answer that you have been seeking? Or are you reading them simply because you feel you should? If it’s the latter then step away from the book. Learn because you are genuinely curious and you will remember the lesson for far longer than if you plug away at a book just to be able to say you’ve read it.

James Bach does a great job of explaining how he learns in his book “The Secrets of a Buccaneer Scholar“. Actively seeking connections between your knowledge can be an effective way to build understanding, and seems to be a method that ties in with this article which explores the physical side of how we learn. Successful learners are people who find a passion and then chase it. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed, or constrained by what other people are saying and doing.

Ask your own questions and seek your own answers.