Why Learning is So Important Today

The ability to learn is one of the things that make humans human, that differentiates us from other species. Humans have to learn, it’s our nature to do so. From birth it’s the one thing that we do most naturally, other than bodily functions. From birth everything that we are doing we’re learning, whether it’s playing, moving, or just looking and listening. For many as we grow we learn less, or stop learning all together. It should be the exact opposite, with the wisdom of age we should know that we could always be learning, and should always be learning. Learning is important and required for human growth and advancement.

Learning provides so much. Learning is enjoyable and fun. Those that don’t enjoy learning are not approaching it with the right attitude. Learning leads to happiness and wellness. Learning new things keeps the mind stimulated, more positive, and growing. This leads to improved brain health and contributes towards wellness. Learning generally helps one to be more optimistic, open, and inquisitive. These are contributors to happiness. Learning is a powerful example to others, to family, friends, and community. Learning is good for society and provides many societal benefits from lowering unemployment to improving overall population health. It’s an important example of leadership to others. Combining learning with meditation, greater mindfulness and the effects of learning will foster greater inner peace and will spread to others. The more people who are learning the more peace on the planet.

Lifelong learning is the ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge throughout one’s life. It’s an attitude and for many a way of life. Lifelong learning could influence all aspects of one’s life. The pursuit of lifelong learning is an admirable, desirable, and beneficial pursuit.

Learning is also very important for one’s work life. We know that we are now in a learning economy, no longer a knowledge economy, where economic growth is dependent on one’s ability to adapt and learn in order to create opportunities and growth. The pace of change in technology, the economy and global competition dictates that the ability to learn and adapt to new situations is the most important requirement for global success. In today’s learning economy, the ability to learn is the most important and overlooked skill required for life and business success.

Learning is so important because it’s a requirement for living, it’s the new lifeblood.

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How Anxiety Affects Lifelong Learning

This is our first guest post and is contributed by Ryan Rivera, and is an example of occasional posts by contributors on related topics. One of our key goals is to educate readers about the importance of and impact of wellness on lifelong learning. Ryan’s post is very relevant to lifelong learning as anxiety must be managed by many of us to achieve our goals and strive for our dreams.

Your brain is an incredibly powerful organ, and one that is more complex than even research gives it credit for. But as powerful as it is, it can also be very sensitive, especially to your emotions and your mental health.

Learning and Anxiety

Your brain, of course, is your most important tool for learning. It is also extremely affected by anxiety. Anxiety, which affects millions of people in the United States alone, is so powerful that it can shut off some parts of your brain completely. It also causes many different issues that affect learning, including:

  • Fatigue – Perhaps the biggest problem with anxiety is fatigue. Anxiety is very draining both mentally and physically, and yet you need energy if you hope to learn and stay active in life. Without that energy, there is simply no way to keep yourself motivated or focused on the world around you, let alone any classes or personal learning activities you undertake.
  • Distracted Thinking – Similarly, your mind can only focus on a select number of items at any given time. So when you have anxiety, your ability to focus on other items decreases. Anxiety can clog all of your thoughts and prevent you from seeing and remembering everything in front of you, causing many issues with lifelong learning.
  • Memory Loss – On a physical level, anxiety and stress can actually prevent the creation of new memories and trigger memory loss. It’s not entirely clear why this occurs, but many studies have confirmed that those with chronic anxiety lose memories more than those with no anxiety at all.
  • Poor Priorities – It’s not just the effects of anxiety either. Anxiety can also simply cause you to have worse priorities than you would otherwise. For example, you may be so anxious that all you want to do is go to the doctor or stay home and watch TV instead of embark on some type of learning excursion.
  • Negative Thinking – Finally, anxiety causes negative thinking as a side effect of long term stress. People’s emotions become more negative in a way that you may not even realize – in a way that feels natural. Negative thinking has a strong impact on learning.

Anxiety is an overwhelming condition, and one that is often very physical. But it’s also much more than that. It’s an emotion and an experience that affects your mind in numerous ways, from shutting down some parts of your brain to taking over other parts. When you suffer from long term anxiety, you’re preventing lifelong learning.

Learning as a Treatment

What’s interesting, however, is that lifelong learning can also be an anxiety treatment. The more you engage in learning activities and try whatever you can to expand your own personal experiences, the more your mind can’t focus on anxiety and learns to be more optimistic. So while anxiety prevents learning, learning can prevent anxiety.

That’s why it’s not just about controlling anxiety. It’s also about making sure you’re making yourself learn at the same time. You need to stop your anxiety as best you can, but if you can also get yourself out there and use your mind on a daily basis, you can also help yourself control your anxiety in the future.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera tries to continue learning on a regular basis, formally and informally. He has a website about anxiety recovery at www.calmclinic.com.

The Potential of Lifelong Learning Technology

learning groupLifelong learning is the key to success. I’ve said this before and I truly believe it. I believe that lifelong learning is the best approach to being successful in life or in anything that you want to pursue. Having an open mindset, a thirst for learning and knowledge, and the desire to share with others will put you in the position to identify inspiring opportunities. It positions you to capture life’s opportunities and to be able to excel in your chosen field.

Lifelong learning is both a formal and an informal process. Informally, you learn from all of your experiences, mistakes, lessons, and relationships and from the people around you. The informal learning process is about continuously improving at all areas of life. It’s about the desire to improve and not about being perfect. Formal learning is the process of intentional learning. You strive to learn new things that will help you achieve your personal professional or pleasure goals. Learning new things in one area will often help to give you new perspectives and ideas that can help in other areas of your life. Formal learning can be self-study learning, experiential learning, e-learning, classroom learning or a mix. There can also be a combination of formal and informal learning.

Technology is playing an increasingly important and powerful role in lifelong learning, just as it is in every area of life. Lifelong learning technology has the potential to change the way we learn and to bring lifelong learning to more people in ways that was not possible before. The two biggest technologies driving this are the Internet and mobile. They are now at the point that they’re readily and inexpensively available to everyone at a level of capability that is truly changing how we do things. It’s the ease and accessibility of information whenever and wherever and the ability to easily collaborate with large and diverse groups on a specific topic that are enabling the expansion and adoption of e-learning.

The most important aspect of lifelong learning technology that drives these new possibilities is the ability to share and collaborate about topics of interest with your learning community in a safe and secure environment. A big part of this are all the web 2.0 tools for discovering, sharing, learning, and collaborating. People can develop their own personal learning network to help discover things of interest and learn more about them, but the real power of lifelong learning technology is through the learning and sharing with your learning community. This takes learning to a different level, one not possible on your own. You will gain the most by collaborating with a group that is willing to share what they know and that shares your common interests. An individual can only do so much on their own, an individual needs support and assistance of a community to develop the desire and motivation, to understand what works and what doesn’t work and to act as a support system.

There are many important technologies that have a role in driving lifelong learning technology including the mobile internet, smartphones, cloud computing, big data, app development, online video and others. An increasingly important area facilitating the secure access to data and the ability to share and collaborate with others is identity management.identity 10102 The need for identity management is ever-increasing with the proliferation of devices and media and the explosion of cloud resources for processing, storage, apps and analytics. You must feel safe and secure to be able to perform online actions in a productive, effective and an empowering way.

Are you frustrated with having to remember all of your multitudes of passwords? Do you reuse the same password over and over? Do you believe that your online accounts are as safe as they could be? Do you do online banking with confidence in the security of your online transactions? This is the domain of identity management. Identity management enables the free, safe and secure sharing of information in learning environments that fosters the power and potential of lifelong learning.

Identity management is a current area of focus of mine and will be the topic of my next blog post.

What Can We Learn About Learning from the Newtown Tragedy?

Our country recently experienced an unbelievable tragedy, the senseless murder of twenty precious first grade children and six teachers and administrators in their elementary school by an evil and ill person.

What are we to learn from this event? Maybe we should learn about learning.

I have thought much about this tragedy and feel compelled to write about it, for my own sake so that I can truly learn from the event. I do believe that there is something to be learned about learning from this event.

I found myself like most other people feeling terrible, sad, hurt and thinking about the families of the victims. I have been deeply moved by it, and am trying to figure out what the lessons are from it and how to keep those lessons alive.

Tragic events such as this do have an impact and can change things. The reactions to this event do have me concerned though. The polarization in our politics is leading to, and possibly already led to, a major polarization across our entire society. The aftermath of the Newtown tragedy is just another example of this. I’m not going to go into the issues specifically as this is not a venue for those topics. I agree with much of the reaction which is obvious and necessary. But it is also limited, self-serving, and insufficient. This tragedy must be the result of many factors, not just the availability of guns. Most things in life are not clearcut, not black and white but grey, and are the result of a complex mix of elements, circumstances and events. This event is no different.

Do we really learn from events like this? We say we do but often the lessons fade away. How do we make this event different and truly learn from Newtown and make lasting changes? How do we make it matter and learn the important and necessary lessons? Let’s not jump rashly to conclusions, nor take ill-advised actions. We can’t take too long to learn the lessons either. We must learn before doing, then continue to learn and remember.

We must take action. The status quo is unacceptable. We have a responsibility as parents and as citizens. We are all parents of those children.

I have experienced tragedy in my life. I experienced the death of my father. I was in Manhattan on 9/11 and experienced the entire day in person. Everyday I say this important affirmation to myself, “to search for the good in every adversity that befalls me” from Og Mandino’s “The Return of the Ragpicker”. We should all do the same and follow this sage saying. We should not be so rash to jump to conclusions. We should be deliberate and consistent but not take too much time so as to forget the necessary lessons. Our history shows that we react quickly with the easy and incomplete change that quickly fades away as we retreat back into our everyday lives.

I am as guilty as the next person, as I often let the lessons fade away. I am going to do better and work to hold on to the lessons that I have learned from this tragic event and from life. I am going to think about them and work on them every day from now on.

I believe that an important lesson that we can take away is that it’s very important to always be learning and that this is one of the key ways that we’re going to get through this. Learning is also the best way to avoid these tragedies in the future. We have to further our learning society as more learning will lead to a better society. Learning gives you something to look forward to, to do, and to care about. We can also learn how to be a better society and how to better help those in need. Hopefully some of those troubled individuals will learn through this what they need to learn so they don’t feel the need to do sensational and terrible things like killing others. This certainly won’t solve all of the issues, but it can address some of them and we must do anything and everything we can to eliminate future events no matter how small the steps are. We must continue working at it and not give up. We must learn the lessons of this tragic event.

We must learn more about learning and we can do so through this event. We must learn how we learn from such events. We must learn how to make the learning last. We do learn from these events, but do we learn the right things in the right way? Maybe this is a key lesson of this event, that we must learn how to better learn from these tragedies.

Let’s learn together what we can do about Newtown, let’s learn about the real root causes of these events. There’s not one thing that caused this, it’s clearly a complex mix of things that are contributing to events like this. We must learn about how we learn in order to really learn from them.