When I was a kid, I learned by imitation; gaining rapport with my teachers was irresistible. When I was a teen, I learned by accident, in spite of myself. I was lucky to have teachers who accepted that I was learning while half asleep. Once I got to college, I began to learn by absorption - so I started to choose my teachers carefully because I realized I had no idea what I was absorbing. After college, I thought knew how to spot a fantastic teacher. I became fascinated with what makes a teacher worth the topic they're teaching.
For this community musical "Carnival"
in 1989, I learned how to walk on stilts, how to juggle clubs, how to
hang and build sets, install stage lighting and manage drama queens.
There I am on the ladder.
I would just learn whatever a fantastic teacher had to teach. Fantastic
teachers seemed to bring out talents their students never knew they
possessed. I had to admit that often what attracted me to being taught
was trivial, irrelevant or downright foolish. It was only after my
ignorance had subsided that I could say there was "a method to madness"
for wanting to learn that particular thing. My tolerance extended for
learning about something before making up my mind about its value. While
learning, I gained and defined the value and use of what I'd gotten on
still my favorite style of learning, because I realize that many people
who attempt to teach come up with an explanation that doesn't really
match what they
actually do. It's the doing of something that I'm often interested in
more than the explanation. People teach how they learned - if they take
what they learned further, they often don't have ways to explain what
they're really doing, so they use their former teacher's words. A
sometimes needs to ignore that presentation, and get to the source in a
more direct way.
I mean by "absorption" is to merely open up as wide as possible to the
skill that is being demonstrated. With absorbing, time of arrival or
sequence does not matter. Pretend as if you can already do the skill,
even though you are vastly inexperienced. Imitate everything you
perceive - body language, attitude and facial expression. Cast your
attention wide to take in as much as possible at once, and see if it's
possible to juggle all these unknown factors. "Fake it 'til you make
it." Count on "beginner's luck" to fill in the blank spots. You have
nothing to lose, because you have nothing invested.
college, have always been able to learn from books. Surprisingly to me,
this is rare. People seem to get a book to "have" the contents or refer
to it, seldom do they get a book to really learn it. I outline a book
if I think it's something I
want to learn. Learning using a book by outlining it can be done with a
library book; it's cheaper than buying the book - and I
have the contents that I want to use or remember after I
The learning skill that has been the most
useful for me as a
learner has been to observe. Observation pays off when choosing a
teacher; barefaced self observation allows faster learning. Each
discipline, skill, world
of knowledge or study has it's own sense, body language and lexicon,
which it pays off to learn - but not at first. I find that I want to
directly experience a subject first, before I'm trained into looking at
the traditional point of view of how most people learn it. After that
direct experience as a complete beginner, I'll understand
what the classic solutions have answered. Sometimes confronting a
subject directly will allow me to
innovate beyond the classic learning procedures. Sometimes the way I
give back to teachers is by asking them original questions that they
haven't yet thought of asking themselves. The way to come up with these
original questions is to note what puzzles you or fascinates as you
first encounter the skill or subject, before you know what others think
is "important" about it.
How do you learn best? What do you enjoy about learning?