Becoming a Life-long Learner
Much of your success will depend on how well you become a life-long learner. Following are some thoughts on the importance of continual learning and some real things you can do to become a better learner now and throughout your lifetime.
Becoming a Life-Long Learner
"In times of change, the learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" (Eric Hoffer, philosopher).
One of the Aims of a BYU education is for you to become a life-long learner—to spark a thirst for knowledge and understanding in your heart and mind, and to gain the skills of a learner1. Although learning the content in your courses is important, your need to learn how to learn is perhaps even more important.
Why Become a Life-long Learner?
Elder David A. Bednar explained, “Learning to love learning is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ, is vital to our ongoing spiritual and personal development, and is an absolute necessity in the world in which we do now and will yet live, serve, and work”2.
Researchers suggest that up to 90 percent of your learning across your lifetime will not be in formal settings; therefore being able to direct your own learning in informal settings is essential 3.
How Do You Become a Life-long Learner?
Here are a few ideas to help you become an effective life-long learner:
- Learn to love learning: Find connections in your life to the things you are learning in your courses. Research those things that really interest you. (You might consider working with a faculty mentor to make a proposal for an ORCA grant, for example.) Challenge yourself to do things you have never done before.
- Learn from others: Everyone has different experiences and perspectives on life. The more willing you are to learn what you can from others’ thoughts and experiences, the richer your learning will be.
- Teach others: One of the best ways to learn is to teach what you are studying (e.g., to roommates, friends, family members, or classmates). You might also actively participate in a study group. Teaching and learning with others can help you clarify and organize your thoughts and understanding, as well as help you find the gaps in your knowledge and skills.
- Learn how to learn in different disciplines and in different ways: Observe and talk to excellent learners in your field of interest. Emulate their good examples and learn from them how to find reliable sources of information and apply methods of inquiry appropriate to the discipline.
- Become a more reflective learner: Regularly take time after class to read through and review your notes. Write down any questions you have and seek the answers. Write a reflective journal or blog where you make connections between what you learned in class and things you are learning or have learned in other classes. Connect these ideas with your life, and discover why you should care!
- Create a learning network: Join professional organizations in your field and connect with professors and fellow students at BYU and other universities. Participate in BYU alumni association groups. Connect with professionals and others with similar interests through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Ning, email listservs, and so forth.
Whatever you choose to do to become a life-long learner, remember to take advantage of your time here at the university to cultivate your learning skills and become one who loves to learn as Elder Bednar counseled. You don’t have to try all of these ideas at once; realize that becoming a life-long learner is a life-long effort. Have patience and keep working at it. As you practice these habits, you should improve your learning (which can help your grades), and you’ll be better prepared for your career and for life.
1. Aims of a BYU Education – Life-Long Learning and Service, Brigham Young University. http://aims.byu.edu/p/aims/#aim4
2. David A. Bednar, Learning to Love Learning, Commencement Address given April 2008. http://speeches.byu.edu/index.php?act=viewitem&id=1777
3. Jay Cross, Learning = Getting the Job Done, 2009 http://www.internettime.com/2009/11/learning-getting-the-job-done/