Lifelong Learning

When you think about it, lifelong learning is the only survival strategy.

Yet, companies, non profits, and state agencies are always looking for employees who will embody this mindset.

Why is it so rare?

Shouldn’t lifelong learning be natural? Just like creativity, curiosity, empathy and love were all natural to us at one point in our lives.

The time where lifelong learning becomes unnatural is around the time when learning becomes thought of as work.

If learning means you’re sitting in a chair, taking notes and remembering information, yes, learning is work! Exhausting work that NO ONE wants to do for 6 hours in a day.

But that’s not the only form of learning. Learning happens at recess, in the hallways, at home, on the basketball court, in the woods and everywhere in between. The tricky part is, the learning that happens when you’re having fun doesn’t even feel like learning. So we undervalue it. We say that learning is hard work and it happens at school and if you want to succeed in life, this is what you have to do.

What if instead of insisting upon a certain type of learning, we found everyone’s flow? The things they could enjoy doing for hours. Then, we built from there. Incorporating the mindset of lifelong learning in a natural, approachable and irresistible way.

Fundamental learning

For some reason, project based learning makes me people feel defensive about learning fundamentals.

They think that by launching a project that genuinely engages students, that reading and writing will be ignored. As if meaningful projects that young people care about don’t incorporate reading or writing.

PBL and learning fundamentals are perfectly compatible.

PBL just says there’s a different entry point. Why not start with a project that’s exciting for young people? Then, once they care about their idea, THEN we layer in the fundamentals.

Why not?

More help is everywhere

If it were easier to ask for help, more people would do it.

More people would receive help and more people would be better off.

Imagine if any school could easily get volunteers for an hour at a time during the school day. Teachers and administrators would know that they could tap dozens if community members for an hour during any day. The possibilities would open up as to what school could look like. Job shadows, career fairs, one on one tutoring, and more.

All if it were easier to ask for help.

Systematic problems

When you start to examine systems, the scope of the problems grow exponentially. There are countless complexities tied up in systems that have been built sometimes over hundreds of years.

Rules, regulations, expectations, norms and more. All working in favor of the system.

The only way the shift begins is by building the next culture. Creating the new norms, the new expectations, regulations and rules.

Luckily, culture starts small. It starts with individuals, habits, teams, language and then it spreads.

The planet fitness exhibit

If you show up to Planet Fitness expecting a science exhibit, you’re going to have a negative experience.

Even when it’s a good place to exercise, if you brought a notebook and a pencil, you won’t be happy.

Quitting for the right reasons

Is often the best thing you can do. Unfortunately, little exists in our society to encourage such behavior.

I thought about this question in the context of Dual School because every semester students quit the program. I’m not sure if they’re quitting for the right reasons, though. So how might one find that out?

Imagine a program that frames quitting the program as a positive, as long as it’s done correctly. “You can quit at any time as long as we have a conversation about why leaving is the best decision for you.”

I can just see how rich those conversations would be. At the end of the day, quitting is okay and as a program director, I know that there are many competing priorities in any student’s life. I would just love to use the opportunity to create a learning moment where a student expresses their own self awareness and learns the meta skill of knowing when to stop.

How else could we nurture that muscle?

Consciousness

When you think about it, what is really observing the world?

We often imagine a thinker, a seer, a hearer, generally, a sensing thing, in our head interpreting the world.

That’s one way to look at it.

But look through a doorway. Look into the other room. Can you “be” there while standing here? Can you sense that space while staying a few yards away?

Intellectually, you can’t really “be” in that other place. It’s confusing to think about. But when you get out of your own mind’s way, send your consciousness to the other room. Feel fully present there. Pick a corner to feel present in. Pick another corner.

If you continue to do this, it becomes easier to believe that your consciousness doesn’t solely reside behind your eyes, in your head. It feels more than possible that your consciousness could be anywhere you send it.

Inhuman and unnatural

So much of our lives make little sense to our biological selves.

Commuting, sitting indoors, typing away on a computer screen for 40+ hours per week, resting two days per week and working the other five. It’s all strange for humans.

It makes sense because it’s all we know, but if we could start over, we wouldn’t design it like this. It seems to have happened to us slowly, but surely.

The same goes for something like education. It’s quite unnatural to learn by staying in the same building 180 days out of the year, working with the same people from the same place learning the same thing as they learned last year.

Again, if we could start over, we wouldn’t design the current system. We probably wouldn’t come up with anything even close to it.

On a meta level, the same is true for the system that perpetuates all other systems. If the general public can all identify broken components, why are they not being fixed? Why is there deadlock in government? If everyone elected has the best interests of the country, why is it impossible to do anything bold?

We’ve created and perpetuated an inhuman and unnatural world. The worst part is, there seems to be no way forward.

49 Things I’m Grateful for

I’m grateful for:

  1. Family
  2. Love
  3. Friendship
  4. Travel
  5. Mountains
  6. The ocean
  7. Trees
  8. Tennis
  9. Play
  10. Laughter
  11. Running water
  12. Beaches
  13. Surfing
  14. Sunny days
  15. Snowy days
  16. Education
  17. Opportunities
  18. Biking
  19. Snowboarding
  20. Dinners with people you enjoy
  21. Music
  22. Dancing
  23. Believing in a better future
  24. Relaxing
  25. Animals
  26. A warm breakfast
  27. Swimming
  28. The iPhone
  29. Writing
  30. Reading
  31. Great books
  32. Warm fires
  33. Long hugs
  34. Deep conversations
  35. Personal growth
  36. Meditation
  37. Self reflection
  38. A supportive team
  39. A comfortable bed
  40. Hot showers
  41. Drawing
  42. Catan
  43. Card games
  44. French toast
  45. University of Delaware
  46. Oyster River HS
  47. Positive role models
  48. A roof over my head
  49. Holidays with people you love

Status and presence

Pursuing more status is an endless game that you can never win.

Pursuing more presence, though, is a game worth playing.