In education, we do not believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Adult learning is a massive field, both non-profit and for-profit, and it is because the drive to learn is a lifelong endeavor. Beyond continuing education and college courses that are readily available, there are also self-directed pursuits adults can undertake to strengthen their overall learning abilities.
One valuable activity which increases critical and analytic thought is to make a list of the great books that you have read, and begin to reread them. From these books, an understanding of personal values and beliefs can be looked upon, and the act of re-reading is the surest way to deepen understanding of a text. Rereading the important books from one’s life will then translate into a stronger critical reading habits overall because some of the questions that one asks while rereading will become questions asked while reading generally. Asking questions about a text and making connections to other ideas strengthens the impact of our reading habits.
Another sure way to learn something well, is to teach it. For example, say you wanted to learn more about how cars work so that you can be more proactive in fixing car problems. You could read books, look at diagrams, and so on, but if you took it a step farther and learned what you could and then forced yourself to teach it – to your child, a neighbor’s kid – then you will have strengthened your understanding considerably and will be closer to mastery of the topic.
When teachers focus on student writing, one of the things they are looking for is evidence of thought. This is because writing is a form of advanced thinking. Even the most basic written communications require real thought and planning. If a person takes the step to revise what they write, they will encounter language, vocabulary, sentence structure issues that force thought as to what is the most effective way to communicate oneself. Perhaps you turn to the dictionary or thesaurus, perhaps you clarify a point and in doing so, clarify a thought for yourself. This is a valuable asset to daily learning.
Finally, because learning is meant to also be fun, it’s important to remember that we can learn from what our kids are learning. There are a ton of resources for children on science, engineering, technology, crafts – and, these can be just as effective for teaching adults the basics of something like an advanced concept in physics which is difficult to understand. Best part, these resources enable learning for both parent and child, making in a memorable learning experience, which also remains one of the important keys to successful learning.
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