Friday, September 13, 2013

Ready To Learn?

Why do adults learn so much more slowly than children?

Could it be because adults start out from a position of already knowing something?

It's not a radical suggestion that the most valuable lessons in life will require you to completely let go of what you already know.

As a teacher I lead many horses to water, but I can't make sure that they all quench their thirst. Not because they are not thirsty, but because they all assume they know how to do it already.

The hardest students to get through to are the ones who come with a set of established values and expect me to just tweak them so that they work better. Most of the time the things that hold us back are deep faults stemming from a fundamentally wrong approach that is hidden from us.

A simple solution is to be like a child. Open your eyes and ears and take in every detail. Don't assume you know the end of the sentence because the beginning sounds familiar. Stay always in observation mode, even when you begin to participate.

Presented with something completely new, a child will take it all in without resistance and investigate every nuance, thereby understanding the thing as a new entity without judgement. An adult will immediately look for comparative reference points in their own experience in order to categorize, thereby reducing the revelation to a minimum and challenging their understanding of the world as little as possible. If they can't categorize it, they become afraid and defensive as their world is based on a set of established but fragile rules.

We are all in a hurry to grow up. To be the one who knows what's what. But the world is vast, and unless we travel constantly in a state of humility and generosity, speaking the language of every place we visit, we can't assume to know very much at all. If we live in a very cloistered, safe environment and have few real hardships in life, we know next to nothing. Accepting you know nothing is the power of growth.

If you have found someone whom you believe can teach you something, you owe it to yourself to throw away all assumptions and accept the way that is being shown you until it is completed. Anything less is a waste of everybody's time.

You can't add to a cup that is already full.