Posted in Collaborative Learning, Tips for Students

How to Maximize your Education, Part 6 of 6

This series of posts looks at six vital principles for getting the most value out of your education, regardless of how you go about pursuing it.

Principle # 6: Participate in the flow of information: continually practice communication.

I’ll say it again: learning is not a solitary activity.  Knowledge can be gained in two ways, through experience and through communication.  Experience is magnified when it is shared, and communication can only take place when there are at least two of us involved.  Knowledge is proportional to the ability to communicate, and communication is one of the best ways to develop knowledge.

Learning from a book is communication between you and the author.  Writing is communication between you and your reader.  To learn actively, continually communicate what you are learning by directly teaching others or by simply sharing it with the world.  Write about what you are learning, talk about it, make art or music about it, start a youtube channel or a blog about it.

Study groups with classmates or other independent learners are a great way to practice communication.  Engage each other in the learning process through conversation and presentation, and help fill in the gaps in each other’s comprehension.

Think of it this way: anything you learn is not yours to keep, it is yours to pass on.  The more you help others by sharing your knowledge, the more you will be rewarded by your education.

Posted in Inspiration, Tips for Students

How to Maximize your Education, Part 4 of 6

This series of posts looks at six vital principles for getting the most value out of your education, regardless of how you go about pursuing it.

Principle # 4: Seek constant improvement, not a steady state.

The purpose of education, and of life, is not to “get somewhere”.  If a steady state is what you’re seeking, there’s a name for it: death.  As a living being you are either growing or dying, and as a human your mind is either growing or shrinking.  There are no two ways about it.

If you are seeking security, stability, and stasis in your life, you are bound to be stressed, frustrated, and disappointed.  If the question you keep asking yourself is “When is my life going to settle down and get back to normal?”, the answer is “Never”.  Accelerating change is a feature of our world, and different is the new normal.

In accord with this observation, education is not a process to prepare you for standing still, education is a process to prepare you for the next part of the process.  Where you are today is not where you will be tomorrow, and where you will be tomorrow is not where you are going to stay.  Pursue your education as if it is a process of constant and never ending improvement with no end in sight, and you will optimize all aspects of your life experience.

This may sound disheartening for some who are tired of things changing and just want a break.  I understand.  This happens when we come to associate growth and change with effort or exhaustion.  It stops when we decide to associate growth and learning with excitement, passion, and happiness (which is just as easy to do).

Posted in Inspiration, Tips for Students

How to Maximize your Education, Part 3 of 6

This series of posts looks at six vital principles for getting the most value out of your education, regardless of how you go about pursuing it.

Principle # 3: Distinguish between possibility-based thinking and fear-based thinking.

Possibility-based thinking will lead to a happy, effective life, whereas fear-based thinking will lead to a limited, miserable life.  The way to tell the difference is that possibility-based thinking is open ended and focused on growth, and fear-based thinking is narrow, confined, and focused on maintaining and surviving.  If you look at the future and see options and opportunities and are mainly concerned with expanding what you are capable of, then you are probably practicing possibility-based thinking.  If you look at the future and see obstacles, risks, and threats and are mainly concerned with keeping what you have or just staying alive, then you are probably coming from fear mode.

You can always choose which mode to operate from in any situation.  At any given time, there are an unlimited number of potential risks that your mind could choose to obsess over, and there are likewise an unlimited number of opportunities it could choose to pursue.  Whether you choose to focus on obstacles or on opportunities is a choice, but it is also subject to habit.

Are you pursuing your education because you are afraid of not having a job, of not being able to make money, or of not fitting in?  All of these motivations are based in fear.  On the other hand, if you are pursuing your education because you are passionate about gaining knowledge and excited about the opportunities you are pursuing, then you are coming from possibility-based thinking.

The worst motivation of all, and a recipe for being stressed and unfulfilled, is doing something because you “have” to.  I am here to tell you that regardless of what you may have heard, there is absolutely nothing in this life that you “have” to do.  Though you cannot choose to do that which is impossible, the number of choices available to each of us, even on a day-to-day basis, is literally unlimited, and we humans have been historically notorious for being comically mistaken about what we deem impossible.