The “why” of self-directed learning is survival—your own survival as an individual, and also the survival of the human race.  Clearly, we are not talking here about something that would be nice or desirable….We are talking about a basic human competence—the ability to learn on one’s own—that has suddenly become a prerequisite for living in this new world. – Malcom Knowles, 1975

While lifelong learning and self-directed learning are not equivalent, they overlap substantially. I think the following points apply equally to both. The successful lifelong learner is someone who:

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Sleep Learning Memory

It’s been a while since my last post on sleep and learning. During that time, evidence suggesting the critical connection between sleep, learning, and memory has continued to accumulate. For a poor sleeper like me, it has also become more disturbing in some ways. Here’s a quick run down on some of the recent research.

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Mountain ReflectionIn addition to the brief periods of reflection I engage in on a daily and weekly basis,  I try my best to take some significant time at least a couple times of year to look back over the previous months – sometimes beyond –  and reflect more deeply on what I have learned. I think this sort of personal after action review is an important practice for many reasons, but here are a few key ones:

  • We know that learning requires repeated exposure. One shot rarely does the trick.
  • We know that learning is strengthened if we are able to connect it into our lives – and going back to think through how we have – or might have – applied some of our learning helps greatly with this process
  • Looking back is essential for looking forward. While you don’t want to live in the past, it is helpful to have a sense of what you have accomplished, to identify patterns, to figure out what it makes sense to build upon – or possibly to change or eliminate.

While there is not single best way to engage in review and reflection, here’s a high level process, grounded in research, that I thought readers here might find helpful:

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The Learning Walk, Continued

A while back I wrote a post called The Learning Walk: A Primer which proved to be quite a bit more popular than I expected. A recommend reading it – everything I say in it still holds true – but the main idea is that walking is a simple habit that can contribute significantly to […]

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The Future and Learning – Connecting the Dots

The learning landscape continues to evolve in very interesting ways. I’ve noticed lately, for example, that artificial intelligence (AI) seems to finally be getting significant traction. Enough so that numerous notable figures like Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk have expressed concern concerns about how it might run amok.

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How to Remember What You Hear – A Simple, Research-Based Tip

Do you ever get frustrated because you listen to a story, presentation, or lecture, but later – sometimes as little as a few hours later – can recall little to nothing about it? Call it self awareness – or, perhaps more accurately, call it aging – but for whatever reason I have become increasingly conscious […]

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