“Nobody will teach you anything. You have to teach yourself.” — Derek Sivers
Have you ever read a book, and got nothing out of it?
Have you ever taken a class, and got nothing out of it?
The other day, I was chatting with Robin and I had commented about how ironic that I was reading an autobiography of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, famous for her work on death and grief, but what I got out of it was her message on healing.
You know why? Because that was what I needed to hear.
Looking for Affirmation
We are all born with our personalities. Then we spend our early childhood blindly and wholly accepting the signals given — our parents or caregivers. These make up the core of our identity.
From that point on, we unconsciously look for information what resonates with Who-We-Are. Because it feels good to receive such information. It affirms Who-We-Are.
Being curious and learning new things is a part of that core that’s built into all of us by default. We are learning beings, because the nature built us that way. Learning is necessary for our survival, but also essential for our growth, happiness, and fulfillment.
Going back to the above example, you don’t remember every detail of every book you read, do you?
You only retain what resonate with you.
Teaches present information, but you are the one who draw from it. Chefs can prepare wonderful meal but you only get out what you choose to eat.
You are the only one teaching you.
Don’t make the mistake that teachers are the ones that gives us the knowledge and the wisdom. You do. There are things that can be learned from the most ineffective teachers. Or you may hire yourself the most renowned, experienced, accredited teacher and learn nothing. It’s all up to you.
Guide to Effective Learning
So how to you learn the most?
First, by knowing this truth, that you are the one who’s doing the teaching.
Secondly, by knowing yourself. We all have different learning styles. Figure it out. What we are interested in, what we resonate with — those are elements we discover. Don’t fight, don’t force yourself to learn what you’re not interested in. It’s futile — a waste of time. Because you can’t learn it. At best, you can instill some information in your short-term memory. It will get wiped out as soon as you’re done with your next test or whatever. True, there is some information that you ought to know, that you don’t presently feel drawn to. Like basic safety and health information. But beyond that, simply allow who-you-naturally-are to dictate your direction.
Similarly, parents, don’t force your children what they don’t want to know. And don’t blame teachers for being ineffective in teaching. It is your job to assess your children’s interests and learning styles and find appropriate opportunities. That said,be sure to let your children know that they will get as much out of anything as what they put into it — they can’t blame it on imperfect teachers or learning opportunities for their lack of gain. Nobody is teaching them anything. They have to teach themselves.
Once you know how this works, then you can go on to teach yourself anything. We are learning beings. Don’t limit yourself, don’t blame your teacher. You are the one holding the key that unlocks your potential.
PS I am adding this as there were a couple of people who misunderstood my point.
I was not saying that the best learning takes place only when you teach yourself, by yourself.
On the contrary, I very much believe in the impact of teachers, mentors, and coaches.
My point was to illustrate the proactive, self-directed nature of learning. Even with the best teacher, if you don’t invest into or resonate with not only what but how teachings are delivered, it makes it almost impossible to gain anything from it. But if you got the good/right one, then it’ll definitely make learning easier and more fun.
If you have a choice, by all means seek out those that suit your personality and learning style. If you don’t, then invest in exploring what common grounds you may have with your teacher — no matter how bad or how incompatible he/she is. It’s up to you to learn anything from anyone. You are the one who is making the learning to occur.