One of the biggest gifts I received from higher education was a deep understanding of how I learn.  Not only did my degrees force facts and knowledge and trivial pursuit answers into my head, but they helped me figure out how to continue the process. They not only gave me the fish they taught me how to fish as well.  Which has stood me in good stead over the year.  For instance, I know I have to use special techniques to force in factoids like the specific names of things or generic sounding acronyms but if I connect them with a story or incident, if I weave them into things and make them sticky through multiple points of connection, then they stay in place rather easily. On the other hand, there are things which theory, books, lectures and videos won’t help me with.  I need hands on experience with the material and an actual person to guide me.  For example, when I was learning to knit I knew I wouldn’t be able to figure it out from books and videos so I took a couple of classes. Hands on made all the difference.  Now that I have personal knowledge of the practice I can read not only patterns, but can use written instructions to learn new stitches and techniques.

I point this out because so many people think that learning is a one size fits all enterprise. If you’re going to learn something like psychology or Chinese medicine or Ayurveda or computer science the general wisdom is that you need to go to go to school and intake the information in a school setting via school methods. First off, for most people school wasn’t any fun after 3rd or 4th grade and while many of us are interested in the results of further schooling, rarely do any of us relish the idea of going back to school.  The process is grueling at best even if you aren’t struggling with financing it and it’s just not a pleasure cruise.  What doesn’t get talked about much is that education isn’t confined to such a narrow bandwidth and the means schools use to teach us aren’t one size fits all or even the best method for getting the info.  It’s often the best means for the teacher and the institution to provide the information to the most amount of students in the shortest amount of time so that they can get more funds through the churning of students.

So instead of seeing education as a barrier to getting what we want and where we need to go, it’s handy to know how you learn.  I know a lot of people who think that they aren’t smart because they can’t learn directly from a book or sit through a lecture.  To which I immediately respond “Crap!” or “Bushwah!” Intelligence has nothing to do with how you get the information or how long you can force yourself to focus or sit still.  In this age of information there is absolutely no reason to be limited by the “I’m not smart enough to go back to school” concept of identity.  If you want to learn, start with knowing how you learn.  Like eating, some people are grazers, some need many small meals, some need a heavy meal with two smaller ones, etc.  See learning in the same way.  You can start small with an introductory book, a video on YouTube or an introductory talk.  There are instructional coloring books, free introductory sessions in any number of practices or art forms, and plenty of digestible information on almost anything.  Good lord, name anything these days and there’s probably an app for that. LOL

If you want to learn something but it seems overwhelming, monumental, and out of reach, know that you can do something about that.  Know how you learn and then start looking to break down that monumental mass into digestible bits.  There’s no hurry, you’re not in a race, and you’re not going to be quizzed at the end of your life.  If you want it, make it yours. You’ll find that you have infinite capacity to learn when you’re doing it in a way that works for you. In fact, you might just discover that you were brilliant all along.