By Peter Shepherd
Implicit in any concept of learning is the notion of change. If we learn something, we change some part of ourselves: our attitude, behavior, values, assumptions, or perhaps the amount of knowledge we have. The change may mean a rejection or an alteration of previously accepted beliefs or behavior, or it may mean an expansion or extension of them.
Change is often perceived as frightening as it threatens to rob us of the safety and legitimacy of our personal, often cherished, position and boundaries - especially since maintaining this safe space has helped us to survive as well as we have up to now (even if that's not as well as we could do).
When change is demanded by another person or new circumstances, we tend to feel threatened, defensive and perhaps rushed. The new learning is not perceived as something desirable and of our own choosing. Pressure to change, without an opportunity for exploration and choice, seldom results in experiences of joy and excitement in learning.
To turn this around, we need to be proactive in our learning, to expand our knowledge and abilities in advance of forced changes of circumstance. If there's one thing guaranteed in our lives it is that change will be upon us, sooner or later; usually sooner. If we are open to change, and are willing to learn whatever is necessary to predict and adapt to it, we can even become its master and control its direction. Self-directed learning is therefore key to mastery over life and to the creation of the life that we want. See The Knowledge Net.
Many people had bad experiences at school and perhaps later in life, when attempting to study a new subject. It is easy to quickly get bogged down with new terminology, and often new concepts and procedures seem unclear. This situation can quickly get out of hand as the student gets left behind and the subject either becomes an ongoing struggle or it is abandoned. But none of that is necessary; it is possible to succeed with the study of any subject.
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