Life-Long Learning: Tips & Tricks

This week I am privileged to attend a missionary conference in Uruguay with my fellow missionaries. The speaker is a Biblical Ministries Worldwide (BMW) missionary whose title is “Director of Life Long Learning.” While his roles and tasks include a number of things, so important is the concept of continual learning, BMW has made this a core value of the organization and appointed a particular person to oversee its application. For us, this said a lot about the organization and influenced our decision to join.
Life-long learning is just that – an integral part of life that continues from birth to death. Whether we are actively engaged or not, learning infiltrates our lives. However, the impact is much more profound if we are certain to actively engage in learning as part of our everyday life. I find myself asking, “If learning is already a part of the lives that we live, why would not then try to get more out of if by participating in the process?”
For many, the idea of engaging in life-long learning can be intimidating, especially for those who find the school setting challenging. However, to see it as only an opportunity that can be had in a school-like environment is limiting. Instead there exists a wide variety of options available that may fit one’s learning style including the following:
  • Classrooms: Formal classrooms are an obvious option, but now there are virtual classrooms as well. Aside from this though, many schools are placing classes online through various platforms (i.e. Coursera or iTunesU) so that one can receive the same material.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts are great options for short clips of information to learn from in a variety of fields that interest you, from today’s politics, expositions of Scripture, or whatever topic you find interest in.
  • Videos: With the advent of YouTube there is a more information available to us than we care to know. However, I find it a great option to look through various topics, although sometimes sorting the good from the bad can be difficult. Google and YouTube have saved me a number of times when I am not sure how to do something at home.
  • Books: Books are another obvious tool for learning information. Whether it be historical perspectives, biblical concepts, or whatever may be, books provide a way to think and apply information.
  • Internet Research: Like YouTube, sorting through the good and bad information can be daunting. However, the gems of information that can be found can be impressive, insightful, and applicable.
  • Discussion Groups: While not as popular these days, having discussions groups, or even small groups provides opportunities to learn, think about things from different perspectives, and apply the information. Even more, types and topics for discussions groups can be endless. From Bible studies, to reading groups, or philosophical forums, one can start a discussion group over anything.
  • Chats with Friends: Finally, just casual conversations with friends can play an active role in one’s life long learning process. Don’t underestimate opportunities to discuss life’s situations as practical ways to gain wisdom and insight.
Certainly this list isn’t exhaustive, and at best is basic, but whatever method you choose (or methods) taking initiative in the learning process adds much value to one’s life.
In his book, Habits of Grace (a book I would highly recommend) author David Mathis offers up five tips for life long learning that I find to be insightful:
  1. Vary your sources and seasons (i.e. use different methods and learn about different topics).
  2. Create space and redeem spare time.
  3. Mind your mindless moments.
  4. Adapt to new media.
  5. Embrace the identity of the learner.
I can think of no better points than these when it comes to taking on the role of a serious learner in life.
Learning should be exciting, continuing, and practical and it does not need to be boring, dull, and unapplicable. While there are times when we have to take part in learning that we find less exciting and have no interest in, there are other times in which we can pick and choose topics that interest you. Make learning a priority in your life and do so in a way that is fun and most helpful to you.
Next Week: Come back as we look at some different resources that are available to us . . . some you may know about and many others you may not.
If you have not read David Mathis’ book Habits of Grace I would recommend it immensely. You can read my review of it here and pick up a copy of it here.
Photo “Studying” courtesy of user Steven S. and Flickr.