Hacking the way you learn :
Why do you learn what you learn? In fact, why do you do what you do? Do you enjoy what you do? These questions have proved to be the essential guidelines as I pursue my self-directed learning.
I am reinventing education for myself. I am taking control of how, what and why I learn. I am pursuing my passions. Taking the wild, untrodden route and creating new paths can feel exciting and scary at the same time. While you have unbounded freedom to learn and do whatever you wish to, you also have the uncertainty since this is not an organized curriculum where all you have to do is follow instructions to be successful.
While there are no formalities to slow you down and bore you, you will find it a strange place to be in. You are so used to following instructions that you are overwhelmed with the endless possibilities that learning freely provides to you. And remember, this freedom is not limited to your educational pursuits only, they apply to your lifestyle. For lifelong learners, life and learning are the same. One stops only when the other does.
Like everyone else, I’m used to rote learning and doing limited focused preparations for succeeding in exams. While these methods don’t count as cheating as per the exam rules, if you dig only a little deeper, you will know you have been fooling yourself and the world. What will you do with a 100% score if you don’t really understand the concept behind the topics you learnt and how to apply them to real-world problems?
I deliberately avoid the word ‘education‘ and use ‘learning‘ as much as I can. Even though they are often used interchangeably, education particularly refers to the instructions given by others while learning is closer to the learner herself.
Learning does include ‘by being taught’ phrase in its definition, but it comes only after ‘acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice, or study’. Anyway, the point here is that we should be placing the learner at the center of the system and the role of the teacher is to inspire and guide the learner when she gets stuck. To show the direction but not tell what to see. To guide the learner HOW to think, not what to think.
Being in control of your learning also rests the responsibility of managing your activities on you. Initially, you might end up doing a lot of random things and get distracted with the countless possibilities. Here’s where habits help. As you try out things, keep asking yourself “Why do I learn what I learn? In fact, why do I do what I do?” These questions reveal your value-system which directly affect the goals that you set in life. “Do I enjoy what I do?” will reveal your passions. You should also be mindful of why you enjoyed or disliked something. Did you enjoy something because it came naturally to you or because it was challenging and you love challenges? As you understand your values, passions and goals, you can list down the activities that are essential and try to turn them into habits. Why habits? Because they are effortless once they are yours! It is tough to acquire a habit or to leave it. But once it becomes your habit, it comes naturally to you.
What are the activities that could be made into habits? It depends on what you want to become. Exercising daily to stay fit, coding on Codecademy for new coders, practicing to speak fluently and making sound arguments for those who are weak in verbal skills etc.
Addressing the issue of rote learning and exam-oriented limited preparation, our system of self-directed learning facilitates a different approach. You are free to learn as much and at whatever pace you want to. And the most enjoyable approach is learning by doing. Project-based learning, where the learner simultaneously applies the knowledge and skills to create something. This is the style I’m aiming for.
I want to learn and implement simultaneously. Learning will help me to implement my ideas, and the challenges in implementation will inspire me to learn and explore further.
Its like the electric fields and magnetic fields reinforcing one another as the electromagnetic wave propagates itself forward.