lifelong learners


hi! as requested by several people (a long time ago, sorry this is super late), i’m making a how-to on focusing on a goal that is rather daunting/large/intimidating! now, don’t fear, for this will help you reach that goal very easily!

step one: this should be fairly simple, but sometimes i have trouble with this step. so, what you’re going to have to do is set the goal itself. if you have a goal already, then that’s great! write it down, or stick it at the back of your head, and visualize it. ask yourself: why do i want to reach this goal? how can i reach it? the answers to these two questions will be very crucial for focusing on the goal! for this illustration, i’m going to use ‘become a lifelong learner’ as my goal.

step two: think about your goal, and the answers to the two questions above (how and why). using your answers, you’re going to write down, or think of, or jot down (whichever floats your boat!) some smaller goals that will help you achieve the large goal. for instance, for my goal, i’ll probably do ‘read more books’, ‘learn to appreciate art better’, ‘discover new learning methods’ and ‘become more open-minded’ for my smaller, more specific goals! note that they’re all inter-related and will contribute to me stepping closer to the final goal!

step three: if you’re making a mind-map (i like to mind-map my goals, hehe) you’re going to need to further analyze your smaller goals! now, ask yourself: how can i achieve these smaller goals? what can i do (whether daily, weekly or in the long run) that will help me get closer to these specific goals? for my example, i’ll say that i’m going to try and read five books every month, and write a reflection after i finish each one under the goal ‘read more books’. in this portion it helps to write something that is attainable and extremely specific.

step four: follow these specific guidelines as much as possible, and soon enough you’ll find yourself to be closer to that big, big goal, since you’ve broken it down so much. you won’t realize it, but every small little sub-goal, every small task you make, will contribute to getting you to your goal! have fun, and remember, nothing should take precedence over your mental and physical health :]

and that’s it from me ! remember, you are great and worthy and important, no matter what.

Meekness loves to learn. And it counts the blows of a friend as precious. And when it must say a critical word to a person caught in sin or error, it speaks from the deep conviction of its own fallibility and its own susceptibility to sin and its utter dependence on the grace of God. The quietness and openness and vulnerability of meekness is a very beautiful and a very painful thing. It goes against all that we are by our sinful nature. It requires supernatural help.
—  John Piper
The Creation of the Lifelong Learner « Cooperative Catalyst

Mommy!!!  BUG!!!”  Thea screams at me as we walk around our deck.  ”Lookit mommy, bug,” she runs to me grabs my hand and pulls me near. Behold; the lifelong learner.

Children are naturally curious; if you give them a box they are not allowed to open, they will beg and beg until they finally get to peek inside.  If you tape a box on the floor of your classroom, they will continue to guess at its purpose even past the big reveal.  Children do not need rules to be curious, or even strategies. They are born with this ability.  Now as educators we may fine-tune these skills but schools cannot take credit for their natural curiosity.

So why is it so many schools have a vision statement that includes “creating lifelong learners?”  Why this need to take credit for something they have not indeed created?   Do schools really think that children are not learners when they first enter the hallowed hallways and they therefore need to be fixed?   What an offensive statement to parents everywhere.  Yet schools and the rigidity of some classrooms can often be the reason that the lifelong learner is stymied.  Schools end up breaking the child’s curiosity only to try to take credit for it being re-built.

I would like to see a school with a vision that declares they want to “maintain lifelong learners.”  I would like to see a vision in which children are recognized as the insatiably curious learners they truly are.  We have to change our schools to allow time for curiosity and true exploration.  We are not in the business of creating robots, and yet, that is the direction our government wants to push us.  Bring back the curiosity, maintain the lifelong learner, and perhaps then our system wont seem so broken.

     “I’m a lifelong learner. I think it’s because I taught elementary school for 34 years. I’ve always enjoyed teaching as well as learning. I realized that if kids enjoy learning, they will continue to learn.”
     “What’s one thing you’ve learned recently?”
     “The first thing I did when I moved here a couple of years ago was go to the fabrics store. I walked in and had goose bumps—a physical reaction to this awesome place with all its beautiful fabrics. I thought, ‘Gosh, I haven’t sewed in 35 or 40 years. I would love to make something.’ They had a beginner quilting class starting in two weeks. I took it, loved it, and I’ve made 14 quilts so far. I also have a make-your-own ukulele kit. You put it together, and then you learn how to play it. That’s my next project.”

Portsmouth, NH

Process matters to a writer. Make yourself a “cheat sheet” to use as you continue to work on your project. What did you do to get to where you are now?
What worked—was there a particular routine, revision technique, or daily snack? What were some of your biggest challenges? If you were to pick a theme song, what would it be? Was there a particular critique partner or mentor who really “got” your work?
Make a list and hang it on your wall!

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, and the forthcoming Two Naomis with Audrey Vernick. She loves working with schools, libraries, and community organizations as a teaching artist and lifelong learner.

Writer’s Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo and We Need Diverse Books.

More on solarpunk education:

So I made a big post about cooperative, age-appropriate games as a solarpunk education method, but in my ideal solarpunk world that would only be one aspect of education. Here are some other education ideas bouncing around in my head. Like cooperative games, they all require a lot of time, knowledgeable teachers, and community investment, but I think they would lead to healthier, enthusiastic people, fully prepared to live well and be lifelong learners.

Food Science Education: Starting at a young age with simple gardening and cooking, stuff that young kids can get really excited about. As kids age, folding in the complete science of where food comes from, its relationship with the ecosystem, how to preserve it, and how to prepare it.The idea being that by the time you’re an adult you should have the tools to competently feed yourself even if you end up focusing on other things.  

Relationship Education: An improvement on sex ed. Much of the same content, but expanded with more information for all genders and sexualities, and good, non-scare tactic science on the human body, reproduction, contraceptives, stds, and common communicable illnesses. Also, workshops on healthy relationship communication, self-care, meditation/introspection/self-knowledge, basic first aid, how to help friends in the midst of crisis or mental illness, how to recognize predatory/manipulative/abusive behaviors (in sexual situations and otherwise oh my god it’s so important, why aren’t we taught this early and often?), some basic childhood development stuff. 

Artistic Expression & Upcycling: Art classes which would cover art theory and allow for a lot of self-expression, but would also teach young adults to make and repair their own clothing, use basic woodworking tools, work with ceramics, safely fiddle with metals and basic electronics, and other practical “specialty” skills necessary for a world with less waste. 

Rotating Apprenticeships: Starting out as small group field trips for younger kids, and evolving into longer choice-based apprenticeships in areas of interest, maybe taking up one day per week for high school aged kids. The community members involved in this experience wouldn’t necessarily give lessons on their livelihood – for example a farmer with a deep knowledge of medieval history and geology could focus on one of those subjects if they chose. This would give adults in the community a chance to delve deeper into subjects they loved, and kids a chance to learn a subject from someone truly enthusiastic.

Questing/Journeyman years/other travel: I know there are plenty of posts on solarpunk travel, but in an educational context I imagine it as a continuation of rotating apprenticeships. This would be a time for young adults to visit people and places related to their areas of interest. It could be very specific (like meeting and working with 5 scientists on 5 continents while studying food sustainability) or a more general exploration (visiting some great museums, WOOFing, contributing to public art, and journaling about the experience while trying to decide what to do next). 

Independent Project Salons: This would be a way to tie together celebration, community, and education. Informal salon settings would be a great place for young adults doing independent study or in the midst of travel to meet and talk about their experiences and ideas, and maybe show off their work. Possibly hosted by retired folks who could organize food and drink, introduce topics and guests, and add the benefit of their own experiences.

What other kinds of solarpunk educational programs do you love the idea of?

You may have started with a clear idea of what your project was going to be. You may have had no idea and were just winging it as you went. One of my absolute favourite parts of the writing process is revision. In writing, you get do-overs!
Write down three things—ideas, characters, themes, scenes, anything—that you now feel must be in your story, that are at the very heart of the tale you want to tell. As you keep going, keep this list in mind to help you “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, and the forthcoming Two Naomis with Audrey Vernick. She loves working with schools, libraries, and community organizations as a teaching artist and lifelong learner.

Writer’s Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo and We Need Diverse Books.

Are things not going quite as planned with your writing project? Join the club! Welcome! It’s actually not that bad here. There are snacks.  
It’s very easy to be hard on ourselves, to wouldashouldacoulda all of our energy away. Be kind to yourself. Life happens.  Then, jot down a few quick goals for the rest of your time ahead.
Is there a chapter you really want to finish? A scene you need to outline? A character you need to develop? Make a few notes in the margins, drink some water, and get ready for that last stretch to the finish line.

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, and the forthcoming Two Naomis with Audrey Vernick. She loves working with schools, libraries, and community organizations as a teaching artist and lifelong learner.

Writer’s Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo and We Need Diverse Books.

Steps to becoming a passionate lifelong learner
Tonight, we have a featured post by LifeHackLuis. LifeHackLuis’s focus is to help you hack life to make a better you. These seemingly small changes eventually make big improvements to our lives. “From maximizing material efficiency to personal achievement, LifeHackLuis has you covered.”

This post is about becoming a lifelong learner, an important part of the #StayWoke movement. Here’s a link to the original post and his other hacks. Catch LifeHackLuis’s other tips by following the link as well. Link: ————————————————————————————————————————

This summer, I was hired as a Business Development Representative at NetCom Learning. This company is positioned as a “leading learning company” specializing in computer training and IT certification. While NetCom Learning deals specifically with technology, the company’s core value, lifelong learning, is universally applicable. You should never stop learning. Every day is an opportunity to grow.

Before my first day, I was given a lot of training materials to learn more about the company’s philosophy and operations. Included in my new employee package was a book written by CEO Russell Sarder titled Learning: Steps to Becoming a Passionate Lifelong Learner. I curiously perused the book and found a gold mine. 

Russell presents a simple eight step process to becoming a passionate lifelong learner. He supports each step’s importance with quotes from illustrious people. These quotes are accompanied by biographies, giving the reader deeper contextual insight. The eight steps to become a passionate lifelong learner are:

STEP 1: Learning Value - Appreciate the value of attaining continuous knowledge.

STEP 2: Learning Commitment - Embrace being a committed lifelong learner.

STEP 3: Learning Attitude - Develop the right attitude towards continuous learning. 

STEP 4: Learning Plan - Develop an effective learning plan to excel in your field.

STEP 5: Learning Method - Become an effective learner by combining a variety of learning methods.

STEP 6: Reading - Read an hour each day and grow wealthy.

STEP 7: Library - Build your own library.

STEP 8: Learning Application - Apply what you have learned.

These incredibly simple steps are easy to grasp and easy to apply. My favorites are steps 6 and 7. While I often found reading for school to be boring, now that I am out of college, I have more time to read books that I truly enjoy. Beyond reading, I can now build a library of those books to share with others. 

You can grab a copy of Russell’s book on Amazon, available in print and for your Kindle reader. To conclude this post, I will leave you with one of the very first quotes featured in Russell’s book:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Gandhi

How to Become a User Experience Designer

Klint Finley

Susan Farrell wrote a report based on a survey of nearly 1,000 user experience designers, including what they actually do, and their backgrounds and educations. It’s worth a look if you’ve ever thought about a career in usability.

From the summary:

When asked what characterizes good user experience professionals, one of our respondents said, “If you are a ‘lifelong learner’, in other words, if you are paying attention, you will be able to take previous experiences and apply lessons learned from them to your new situation. That is more important to me than specific skills you might learn in school.”

While most knowledge workers probably benefit from being lifelong learners, the point that this is more importantthan a specific education is rare and one of the defining characteristics of the user experience field.

Even though continual on-the-job learning is the most important, 90% of respondents had obtained a university degree. There’s no single degree to define the field: design, psychology, and communication were the most common major areas, sharply pursued by English and computer science. All of these fields make some sense as a partial educational background for UX professionals, but together those five disciplines accounted for only 45% of bachelor’s degrees. The majority of UX professionals hold degrees from an immense range of other disciplines, from history to chemistry, most of which don’t have a direct bearing on UX work.

The most common educational level was a master’s degree: 52% had at least one master’s degree (some had two, which seems like overkill). Only 6% of respondents were PhDs. Most of the remaining respondents with university diplomas held bachelor’s degrees and 1% had associate’s degrees.

Summary: Nielsen Norman Group: User Experience Career Advice.

Or: Download the full report.