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What does it mean to be a lifelong learner?

I’ve taken a shot before at defining learning as I see it, but I’ve always felt the definition alone falls short of capturing what it means to be a lifelong learner. As I have considered the question more, it seems to me that the following five habits are essential:


I mention consciousness often on Mission to Learn. Certainly not all learning happens consciously, but I think dyed–in-the-wool lifelong learners are always attuned to opportunities to learn. They are aware. They are curious. The ask questions. As a side benefit, their conscious devotion to learning often puts them into situations where they learn a great deal unconsciously.


Bona fide lifelong learners truly believe that time spent learning is time well spent. They a have mindset that tells them learning is always possible regardless of age, current abilities, criticism or other factors that may hold us back.


Lifelong learners don’t just sit there passively and let the world flow past. They take action. They try things. They get their hands dirty. They fail – usually often.


Lifelong learners pause. They close the door and turn off the TV. They review what they have learned and think it over. They connect new knowledge to things they already know. They do this regularly.


Lifelong learners are optimist. They know great change is possible. They know they and others are capable of great things. But they also know there are things we will never know. Mysteries we will never solve. Things that are beyond our control. They are humble.

Having written this out quickly, it now strikes me as almost a mini manifesto for lifelong learning. What do you think? How well does this capture the ways of the true lifelong learner? How well does it reflect your practices?


P.S. – If you like this post, I’d be grateful if you would give it a tweet, like, or +.

1 thought on “What does it mean to be a lifelong learner?”

  1. Pingback: Splash: Refreshment For Your Small-Staff Organization » Blog Archive » Friday Top Five: Top o’ the morning to you!

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