Life-long learning, a term commonly used in academia based settings. However, according to a recent article by Harvard University, this is a skill employers are looking for in applicants.
Q: What exactly is life-long learning? How can we become life-long learners? What is its purpose? Why does this topic need attention?
A: The lifelong learning mindset is more than just about the need to learn; it’s about a desire to learn that lasts a lifetime.
Educators want their learners to succeed both in and out of the classroom. The idea is to make sure that once our children or students leave school, they no longer need us. In essence, our learners must become teachers and leaders. The point is that they never stop being learners. To be a successful lifelong learner, make a commitment early to expand your horizons by making room for new topics of inspiration in your life.
Lifelong learning is now recognized by educators, governing bodies, accreditation organizations, certification boards, employers, third-party payers, and the general public as one of the most important competencies a person can possess. Lifelong learning requires embracing opportunities to learn, accepting failure, and growing from it. To cultivate the habit of life-long learning, here are 10 points to remember:
1. Accept Responsibility for Your Own Learning
Everyone encounters obstacles along their journey. Life-long learners understand that obstacles can be used as opportunities to connect to their next destination. These make excellent, real world learning experiences, as obstacles are often personal to the individual experiencing them.
2. Create Your Own Learning Toolbox
What exactly do you need to learn? For some, this is a favorite playlist, podcast, or inspirational video. For others, their toolbox might include moments of meditation and a cup of coffee. For young children with attention disorders, a simple toy or fidget helps them focus in the moment. Whatever is needed, build your toolbox based on your learning needs.
3. Focus on the Journey, Not the Destination
This can be hard to do. We all want to succeed and fast! Often times, this causes anxiety and a slew of events that could be avoided if we just focus on the journey, rather than bulldozing to the next destination. There is strength in knowing when to shut tunnel vision off and look around at where you are currently. Our students are on a journey of learning in school that continues well beyond the physical and virtual classroom walls. A healthy positive lifelong learning mindset is the greatest gift we can give them to continue that journey with.
4. Turn Mistakes into Opportunities
We will all make mistakes. It is human nature to experiment. Along the journey, it is important to embrace failure and view it as another learning opportunity. “You either grow or you learn.”
5. Embrace Holistic Health and Education for Learning
Mind/body health leads to a willingness and desire to learn. When the whole student is healthy they feel good; this promotes positive action in learning and discovery. Holistic education is a comprehensive approach to teaching where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical, and academic needs of students in an integrated learning format. Students are taught to reflect on their actions and how they impact the global and local community, as well as how to learn from the community around them. Teachers often engage students in projects that apply critical-thinking skills toward solving real-world problems.
6. Create Time to Rest
The average college student only gets around six hours of sleep per night. Recent research on college students and sleep shows that insufficient sleep impacts our health, our moods, our GPA, and our safety. Sleep is critical at every stage of life, but it’s especially important for college students or those who are actively learning. Sleep is key to learning because it is during our sleep that our brain has time to consolidate new memories. So when people say if you want to learn something you should “sleep on it” they mean it literally.
7. Develop a Habit of Reading
First, set a specific reading goal for the year. Once you’re done setting your reading goal for the year, you’ll need a list to back it up. Write out a list of the amazing books you want to read. Set aside specific times everyday to read your assigned book for the week/month and any other articles you may have bookmarked. If you’re looking to create a consistent reading pattern, then setting out a particular number of pages per day would work perfectly.
8. Life-Long Learning Mindset
Lifelong learning is the ongoing education of the self. Because it’s on a continuum, this type of learning is self-motivated and often self-taught. It’s about turning the act of learning in a classroom into a daily mindset and habit for personal development. It’s about having a fierce desire to gain knowledge and skills whenever, wherever, and however.
9. Celebrate Your Successes
“These feelings—gratitude, compassion, and pride—are easier to generate than the willpower and self-denial that underpin traditional approaches to self-control and grit. And while willpower is quickly depleted, prosocial emotions actually become stronger the more we use them.”-David Desteno, Ph.D.
10. Do What You Love and Discover Your Ikigai (Reason for Being)
Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.” When combined, these terms mean that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose.