Wednesday, March 9, 2011

i-TFTD #308: Learning to Learn

#308-1. I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
-Khalil Gibran, mystic, poet, and artist (1883-1931)

#308-2. The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue.
-Antisthenes, Greek philosopher and pupil of Socrates, later regarded as the founder of Cynic philosophy (c. 445 BCE-365 BCE)

#308-3. There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.
-Willa Cather, American author (1873-1947)

I heartily endorse the nomenclature change in many organizations of the erstwhile Training departments to Learning and Development. The focus shifts to the learner and expands the range of possibilities for the mode, place, time and style of learning. To someone who adopts a learner attitude, every situation offers the possibility of gaining knowledge. Reminds me of the ancient saint Dattatreya, who, when asked who was his teacher, is said to have replied that he had 24 teachers and proceeded to list them including a bird, an animal and elements of nature.

At a practical level it is important to unlearn or forget some past learning in order to facilitate the assimilation of newer facts and knowledge.

The last quote observes that while most things are best learnt in a conducive environment, some types of learning can only occur in the midst of a crisis. Think back to any high-pressure situation you have been a part of and I am sure you will glean some memorable insights. In a slightly different context, the Japanese way of understanding a problem begins with the remark, "Come to the Gemba!" (Gemba means the real place or the shopfloor.) Some aspects are revealed only in the gemba.

Learning has been a recurrent theme here in i-TFTD right from i-TFTD #4: April 2007 to learning from children, tips on continuous learning, learning from objects around the room and profound learning.

1 comment:

JR said...


Nice post. Thanks for the Dattatreya story. quite inspiring.