Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Life-Long Learning

I've always thought of myself as a life-long learner. When I was in high-school, I told my mother my goal was to learn everything in the world. She, being a very practical minded sort (but also a life-long learner), told me that was impossible. I replied, "I know, but at least if I keep trying to learn everything, I'll always be learning something." Fifteen years later, learning "everything" has become a little overwhelming, so I've revised my goal to "always learning something" of my original response. And yet, even with my constant drive to learn something, I found to my surprise that several of the habits of life-long learners were things I find very challenging.

Easiest for me, I think, is beginning with the end in mind. I almost always have a goal. But, I do sometimes (okay, frequently) get lost along the way, and sometimes the end looks nothing like I thought it would at the beginning.

Some of the others are a bit more challenging. As I'm preparing to go back to school and earn a Master's degree, I've chosen to focus on improving my ability to accept responsibility for my own learning and having confidence in myself as a competent learner. Perhaps as a holdover from my unrealistic goal of wanting to learn "everything", I sometimes find it difficult to give myself credit for the things I have learned, because I always look ahead to how much there is left to learn. And sometimes it seems that the more I learn, the more I don't know! Which on a good day can be an exciting prospect, but on a bad one tends to be rather discouraging. Also, while I love to read and use the internet on a regular basis because I've run across something I "have" to know more about, when I take classes, I find that I subconsciously expect them to give me all the information I need. I often have difficulty thinking of additional questions to ask, because the instructor (speaker, author, whatever) has given me so much information already, what else could I need to know? An example: when I graduated from college, I had all this new knowledge, and a shiny piece of paper to say I had a Bachelor of Arts, major in Fine Arts, option Music, and not a clue what to do with myself. Where was the class that taught me to craft a performance resume? How to look for auditions? What to do when I found one? Sure, I knew how to sing, and lots of music history and theory, but where did I even start to look for a job?

I eventually found my way to a library job where I catalog music. Hooray for combining using my degree with a place I've always loved to hang out! But I've finally realized that it wasn't the lack of a class or workshop that left me at a loss after graduation, but my own failure to accept responsibility for my own learning. So as I head off to grad school, I'm going to try my best to remedy that.


laurenm said...

It sounds like you have the life long learning gene - it seems to be a familiar characteristic among librarians.