In Pursuit of Lifelong Learning
Have you ever casually gone through some text regarding a topic you probably already know about, then all of a sudden have a light bulb moment? Or you finally understand a concept in a better way? Well, that is what lifelong learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, albeit in a new way. Strathmore University staff had an opportunity to reflect on the theme of lifelong learning, guided by Dr. Elizabeth Gachenga, our Deputy Vice Chancellor Student and Academic Affairs and Gabriel Dinda, a Teaching Fellow in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the founder of Writers Guild Kenya. The session was moderated by Anne Njoroge, a member of the Strathmore University Culture Committee.
Demystifying lifelong learning
Lifelong learning calls for one to have an openness to continuously gaining knowledge. It is an appreciation of truth, which is a broad concept. While we can never know or understand everything, each day, we have an opportunity to grasp a new idea and to further immerse ourselves in the body of truth. For one to learn, there has to be the appreciation of the fact that, we do not know. Once we acknowledge this, then we begin to have a teachable spirit.
Also, it is worth noting that in the African traditional setting, learning took place in every context. There was a deliberate effort to ensure that knowledge was passed from one generation to another through communal activities as well as in the home set up. The men would teach the boys on various skills that would equip them to be leaders and providers in the home while the women taught their daughters different skills pertaining caring for the home and nurturing the family. In the evening, the children would gather around the fire for a time of storytelling. All these were quite rich avenues of passing down family traditions and an opportunity for sharing knowledge. Using this context, it is perhaps easy to conclude that it is an opportune time to revert back to the default settings where learning was viewed as a lifetime project. For this to happen, we must be predisposed and curious to learn from every situation in life.
Relevance of lifelong learning
Albert Einstein once said, “the day you stop learning, you start dying.” Learning gives us a sense of purpose in life and when we don’t learn, we lose that purpose and we stop growing. There’s a joy and happiness that comes with learning new things every day and enjoying the new discoveries we come across. Therefore, in order to live a fulfilled life, we must ensure that we learn something new every day.
In addition, lifelong learning is a basis of values and is part of daily life. At Strathmore University, one of our values is excellence. In order for us to be excellent in our work, at the very minimum, we need to ensure that we know what we are doing. We ought to have the diligence to ensure personal growth through acquiring new knowledge by being aware of new industry trends.
While there may be many modes of learning, experiential learning tops the list. This is basically because, with experiential learning, you engage with others and you engage all five senses in totality. This then ensures that we remember better what we have learned.
Overcoming challenges in the pursuit of lifelong learning
Discipline and consistency are key factors in helping us achieve the goal of lifelong learning. A poll conducted among the staff members revealed that the first challenge in the pursuit of lifelong learning is distractions. With the myriad activities that we find ourselves engaged in today, it takes quite some discipline to ensure that we can immerse ourselves in reading a few pages of a book daily. One of the secrets of achieving this is to ensure that we set aside at least 10 minutes, not more, not less. Just exactly 10 minutes or 15 minutes daily, if you prefer, for the sole purpose of reading a book. You will slowly build momentum every day and before you know it, in a month or less, you will have completed one book.
Having an accountability partner also goes a long way in helping us maintain this discipline. For example, joining a book club or having a daily/weekly family reading session will push us to ensure that we read an assigned book and prepare ourselves to have a discussion about it with the rest of our team members. Sounds like a lot of commitment, right? Just give it a try. You will thank yourself for daring to try.
Technology has presented many opportunities that make it easy for us to read books in a very short time. And while technology has served us well in this sense, we must also be cautious about the over bombardment of information that we see on various online platforms. It is important to run away from the temptation of wanting to know everything and clicking away on every tab we come across on these platforms. More than the quantity of the information we amass, let us challenge ourselves to seek depth of information, quality rather than quantity.
In addition to the above mentioned, it is important to take note of the many ideas we come across while reading. This helps us to reflect on the lessons and draw concrete resolutions on how we can improve in certain aspects and presents an opportunity for us to share the good ideas with others. We must not look at writing as a laborious task. Write for the sake of it, write for fun, write for posterity.
A lot more was unpacked during the session and the full recording can be accessed through the link below:
Access Passcode: 5E^Bf%%V
And by the way, did you know that in Norway, there’s a season where the sun never sets and you can experience 24 hours of sunshine? Here’s an opportunity to continue learning.
This article was written by Martha Ogonjo.
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