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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Learning vs. being taught

It was Winston Churchill who once said, "I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught." Boy, isn't that the truth! I like learning new things, but there are a whole lot more times I resist being taught more than I'd like to admit! Life is full of teachable moments, but not all of us are great at actually engaging with the moments. According to scripture, a good student is one who "closely observes" and then "follows instructions".  A good student will not only follow instructions, but he will observe so as to emulate or "reproduce" the behavior / actions of the one he is observing. I like watching those cooking shows on TV, but do you know how many of those recipes I actually make?  Zero!  I don't even come close!  What they do provide for me is a seed thought of how I might make or use something differently than I had in the past.  Oftentimes, this is a means of learning we may not really count on happening - reserving something we have seen, heard, or experienced for use at a later time in life, but not always in exactly the same way we observed it.

You have been a good student. You have closely observed how I have lived. You’ve followed my instructions, my habits, my purpose, my faith, my patience. You’ve watched how I love and have seen how I endure.  ...So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed.  All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:10, 14-17 VOICE)

Observation involves our senses.  It stands to reason much of what we learn is taken in through one or more of our senses (sight, touch, smell, etc.).  It also stands to reason we can observe and not have touched, heard and not have seen, etc. Not every sense will be involved as we learn, but science has shown that the more of our senses which are engaged in the learning, the more we usually learn.  I'd like to go one step further with that and say the more of our emotion which engages in the learning, the more we might actually engage with being taught.  As we consider that one, we can probably see the emotion doesn't have to particularly be a good one in order for us to be taught.  Getting our feelings hurt and being left with "raw" emotions abraded by the circumstances we have come through will help us to learn a lesson we may not want to repeat in the future, right?

It also stands to reason we learn some of our deepest and most meaningful lessons in life from those we know and trust.  I hesitated for a long time in asking for advice on how to actually make my investments begin to perform so I would have a little put away for my retirement.  I had to ferret out who I could trust with my financial naivete.  It wasn't easy to know who to listen to, or what patterns of investing to follow because there was a lot of "advice", but very few who actually were accomplishing all they set out to do.  When I finally found someone to advise me, I began to realize I could do things in ways which would position me for a better return on my money, but keep me relatively safe in terms of protecting those investments, as well.  Trust is a big factor in learning - for no one is open to being taught when the one teaching under-performs, over-promises, etc.  

All we learn in life, all those moments we spend being taught, all add up to one end goal - that we will be up to the tasks ahead of us and accomplish what we set out to accomplish. There is no purpose in learning, in subjecting oneself to being taught, if there is no real "goal" in mind.  At first, while being taught some of the lessons I have learned in life, I didn't really know what the "goal" may have been, but as I began to settle in to learn those lessons, I began to see the evolving purpose or goal.  When I set out to lose weight, I might set a goal, but in the end it isn't the number of pounds I lose, it is how I feel when I do.  I know my "healthy weight" and when I achieve that, it produces within in me an ease of movement, reduced pain in my joints, easier breathing as I move, etc. The goal has other ways of affecting my life, not just that those pants in the back of the closet fit again!  Those other "realized goals" may not have been the ones I set when I determined to lose the weight, but they are accomplished as a result of taking the steps toward the goal of losing XX pounds.  Often the things we "realize" in learning one lesson in life provide ample opportunity for us to see how that lesson begins to help us in so many other ways.

As Churchill said, we can set out to learn, but if we aren't really ready to be taught, all the "learning" isn't going to happen as it should.  This is probably why we see "lessons" being "recycled" in our lives - we just weren't quite ready to be taught when the lesson was there for our learning.  Just sayin!