Skip to main content

Study, instruction, and experience...we need them all

I often comment it has been a good day because I learned something new on that particular day.  In fact, I make it a point to learn something new - it keeps me challenged and I enjoy the learning (most of the time).  Ever had to learn a lesson you just didn't want to learn?  I have - too many times to count!  Those are the things which are tough to learn, but necessary if we are to grow up into strong and "survivable" creatures.  I had to learn to brush my teeth, or I'd realize they would all fall out from decay.  I had to learn to take showers on a regular basis, or I would have body odor even I wouldn't feel comfortable with! These were probably some of the easier lessons to learn in this life - the ones I can say I have mastered.  Then there are the tougher ones - like learning to keep my mouth shut at times when less words are better than more, or how to navigate risky relationship paths that need to be traversed, but which are pocked with all kinds of landmines!  You know those lessons I am referring to - for you have your own.  In those moments, it would be easiest to just stop learning - to say the learning would be too hard.  Yet, if we want to grow up into strong and "survivable" creatures, we need to learn even the tough ones!

If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know. (Proverbs 19:27 CEV)

I think the hardest part of learning is being teachable.  In fact, the idea of being teachable implies we are willing to be exposed to risk.  It is indeed risky business to put ourselves out there - to be in the places of uncertainty where we see our abilities put to the test.  I used to dread it when a teacher would call on me for an answer when my hand wasn't raised - or when they'd make me come to the front of the class to read, cipher a problem, or the like.  Why?  It was putting me in out there - I was then required to show how well I had been listening and my ability to "learn" the stuff they had taught!  This was easy when it came to the stuff I actually enjoyed learning, but for the harder stuff - it wasn't so fun.  Learning comes by study, instruction, and experience.  Study is when we spend time getting into the facts about something we are interested in learning.  Instruction is more of the example type of learning - we see something modeled and then we try to replicate what we have seen. Experience is when we actually take the parts we studies and the stuff we have seen modeled and then put them together into the practical expression of that "skill".

To be truly teachable, one has to be willing to incorporate all three parts of learning into their day.  In fact, leaving out any of these parts is going to "skew" what it is we will learn.  If we don't study, we won't have all the true facts we need to make good decisions as to how to act, where or when to take action, or even when it is best to just wait a little to observe the outcome.  For example, when I was taking chemistry classes, I learned about acids and bases.  One is quite "benign" and the other is quite "harsh".  Acids can cause a huge reaction when mixed with somethings which "interact" with the "harshness" of this product.  Although bases seem quite benign, they have a way of interacting with other "harsher" products - bringing "balance" to the equation.  Too much of one or the other can actually result in something quite unpleasant.  I remember stinking up the science lab with something akin to the smell of rotten eggs with a particular sulfur reaction!  

By the same token, if we don't ever have the chance to see the object of our learning modeled it is harder to grasp it.  This is probably which cookbooks are filled with all those delightful photos of how the meal should look when you have it all done.  Learning to have the meat, potatoes, and veggies all finish at the same time is quite a different matter, though!  One must apply some of the knowledge they have learned by both "modeled" behavior/actions and what they find in the books (studied learning).  This is why the cookbook will give us those instructions on how long something takes to reach the desired level of perfection, not just the instructions on how to bread it, fry it, and the like.  The instructions have been provided so we can model the same "perfection" as they produced in the photograph!  

When we take our studies and combine them with modeled behavior or actions, we have a better chance of actually producing "similar" outcomes.  Here is the word of warning - we might just not produce the "exact" same outcomes - it might only be similar.  Until we repeatedly produce the same reliable outcome each and every time, we cannot say we have gone to the level of being experienced with the learning.  Experience is the level where we finish what  we start and do so with pretty reliable consistency.  For example, I now know I cannot start fresh veggies at the same time as I start the fish.  They won't be done at the same time - fish cooks quicker than most veggies!  I also know I cannot expect a five pound roast to be done in 30 minutes (without the use of a pressure cooker).  I haven't learned this by reading the books, though!  I learned it by experience!  I tried and failed, tried and failed, and tried again. In time, I learned the lesson!

Most of life is about learning the lessons - we just have to combine the skills of study, instruction, and experience.  In time, we will master those things we are willing to apply ourselves to - we just have to be consistent in our application! Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

Your full attention, please

My mother frequently uses the term "Listen to me!" as a way of getting my attention so that I actually stop, pay close attention, and hear out whatever her idea or issue is at the moment. It isn't always at the most convenient moment, nor is it always easy for her to get out whatever it is she wants to share. Yet, it is important enough for her to ask to for me to hear it, so I respond with, "I'm listening, mom", and she begins.  It isn't said in anger or in a moment of disappointment. Rather, these words are usually spoken in a "sing-song" manner, but with very specific intent - they are intended to get me to REALLY listen to what she was saying. Why? Because she knows she has something to say even if it is getting harder for her to say it! She has walked through much already, learned many lessons, and has the advantage of experience on her side, but the disadvantage of advancing age makes it harder and harder for her to actually form those t…

Getting at the heart of it all

Have you ever seen someone so good with their skinning knife they can just peel away the hide of an animal without a rip or tear, no waste of any of the meat just below that skin? I have seen some fishermen able to fillet their catch with such skill not even one bone is found in the fillet. How do they learn this skill? I think it comes to them through practice and with the employment of the right 'tool' to do the job at hand. There is comfort in knowing that God means what he says and his Word will come to pass. His Word is like the scalpel in the skilled hands of a surgeon or the knife in the hands of the skilled hunter. As a nurse, I have seen the skillful use of the scalpel - dissecting away the finest of tissue to protect the healthy tissue and to expose the tissue that has become devitalized by disease or decay. I have also seen the damage done by a "blade" in the hands of one not trained or at all skilled in its use. The difference is beyond description.

God m…

Be a little salt

Ever wonder why Jesus left his disciples with the idea of being 'salt on this earth'? We don't fully appreciate salt these days because we aren't as accustomed to how it was used during the times Jesus spoke those words. We often have to put ourselves into the culture where the words are being recorded in order to fully comprehend the significance of their meaning. In the days of the disciples, salt was a basic "staple" of life. It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything. It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared - although there were other spices, salt was a 'staple'. Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to our lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltin…