Learning as a way of life

Learning: (noun)

1: the act or experience of one that learns

2: knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study

3: modification of a behavioral tendency by experience (as exposure to conditioning)

source: Merriam-Webster


I applied for graduation this week. This phase of my journey is about to be complete. My path has not been a traditional one. I didn’t graduate from high school and then go straight to college to pursue any higher learning. The important thing is that I never stopped learning. And I never will. I thirst for knowledge the way that we all thirst for water. Learning is as is essential for living in this modern world as eating and sleeping. In the near future, we will likely see nearly every single labor job eliminated. There are those like Dr. Michio Kaku who suggest that in the next hundred years or so, people will only work if they chose to and that we will have all of our needs provided by an autonomous world of robotics and computers.

Until that happens, we can count on a continued need to be gainfully employed. And to be competitive in the knowledge economy, you’ll need to be knowledgeable!

Here are five ways that you can continue to learn every day:

1. Read the news.

In our global economy, everything matters. Earthquakes in South-East Asia, new labor market policies in Latin America, and the value of the Chinese Yuan all will affect your life. Maybe only subtly, but Brexit will affect you. Perhaps because you’ll be applying for a job in three months that will be with a company or an NGO that is coping with how Brexit will affect their mission or profit opportunities. You can stay informed by using a news app like Reuters that can download videos on a schedule for you to watch offline, while you’re riding on Metro or brushing your teeth. Or use a news aggregator like Flipboard, which can combine news from Twitter, Facebook, or directly from many major news providers. Instead of slicing digital fruit or chasing Pokemon, when you find five minutes free in your day, you can read a few headlines and expand your awareness of the world around you.

2. Follow educational content providers.

Youtube is full of great entertaining content. But it also has become a platform for educational content providers. Vsauce, Smarter Every Day, and Veritasium are all excellent sources for learning content. There are also many podcasts that can be entertaining and educational. Check out Radiolab or the spinoff More Perfect by NPR for exceptional stories about all kinds of awesome things. You can use an app like BeyondPod on Android or iTunes on your Apple devices that can download or stream podcasts. You can listen to these while working out, making dinner, or getting dressed in the morning.

3. Take professional training courses.

Nearly every knowledge based profession today has certifications and continuing education programs. For-profit professional training providers like Learning Tree International and others offer courses in everything from management to information security, to nursing. Many employers offer paid training programs or tuition reimbursement that you can apply toward these or more traditional programs at universities like those at USG. If your employer doesn’t offer any training benefit, you should ask them to reconsider. The best time to negotiate this is when applying for a job.

4. Take advantage of free online college courses.

Speaking of universities, University of Maryland University College has recently transitioned entirely off of traditional textbooks, instead opting for freely available resources online. Perhaps you’ve heard that Massachusetts Institute of Technology has published all of their course materials online for anyone to use freely. Another such program is openstax.org, a nonprofit based at Rice University. There are subject specific programs like MRUniversity for statistics and still others that cover a broad spectrum of topics such as the Kahn Academy.

5. Try new things and meet new people.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the best things you can do to exercise your brain! Way back in 1908, psychologists Yerkes and Dodson described that by remaining in a state of relative comfort, we cannot achieve our maximum performance. If you want to grow and advance, and you should, you need to push beyond your comfort zone. Every new person you meet has the potential to be able to share experiences and perspective to which you would never otherwise have exposure.



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