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Mission to Learn – Lifelong Learning Blog
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New Learning Monitor is Out

Earlier this week I pushed “Send” on a new edition of the Learning Monitor, my twice-quarterly round-up of learning links, news and insights. To get this most recent edition, simply subscribe, confirm, and it will be automatically sent to your inbox.

Here’s what one reader wrote in after reading the latest edition:

I’m just writing to tell you how much I enjoy your newsletters! I don’t even remember how I found your site, but I’m certainly glad that I did.  … thank you for all the time and effort you obviously put into your newsletters. … It’s a perfect example of the benefits of the “information age.”

I thought I’d share the above comment mostly to emphasis that the Learning Monitor is not simply a piece of fluff to pollute your inbox. I put quite a bit of time into filtering through potential online learning opportunities (nearly all free) and also gathering links to interesting blog posts and other insights about learning in our hyper-connected, information overloaded world. You can get a feel for some of the recent editions by visiting the archives. (I am still rebuilding these, but there are several editions there.)

Aside from the various links I provide in the Monitor, I’ve also started beefing up the editor’s note in recent editions. This is where I provide some of my own perspective on news or trends that I feel may be of interest to lifelong learners. Since this aspect of the newsletter may not be quite as clear as other parts of it in the archives, I thought I’d share this month’s note here, as well as the quote of the month, from which I drew inspiration.
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1. Quote of the Month
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“No one expects anyone to sell a house,” said Hannah, now a high school junior who hopes to become a nurse. “That’s kind of a ridiculous thing to do. For us, the house was just something we could live without. It was too big for us. Everyone has too much of something, whether it’s time, talent or treasure. Everyone does have their own half, you just have to find it.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/opinion/24kristof.html?th&emc=th

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3. A Note from the Editor: Thinking, Acting, and Learning at the Edge
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Since the last issue of the Learning Monitor, the Edge has published responses to its annual question, which this year is: How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

http://www.edge.org/q2010/q10_index.html

For any readers not familiar with the Edge or its annual question, the short of it is that the organization seems to exist to curate deep thinking about “intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues.” (Perhaps true to intellectual form, the Web site does not actually make the organization’s value proposition all that clear, so I am making it up as best as I can.) The annual question is a way to get input from hundreds of thinkers on one big topic.

I won’t pretend to have my thoughts fully together yet on this year’s question – I am a bit too slow a thinker. But I did want to make sure to point it out since I think it is so relevant to the topic of learning. And I’d also like to point out what I think is a related trend – one suggested by this month’s quote (above).

The quote, is from Hannah Salwen, a teenager who convinced her family to sell it’s high-priced home and donate half the proceeds to charity. What resulted was, to say the least, a learning experience – one that resulted in a recently published book called The Power of Half.

I contrast this act and the resulting learning, so deeply infused with passion, with a strain of thinking that seems to run through quite a few of the responses to the Edge question. Namely, that we are becoming a society of people who no longer read long or think deeply. That we are living increasingly shallow lives.

I think the jury will be out for a very long time on whether the Internet is changing the way we think for the worse (or at all), but I feel like I do see a growing number of cases where people are grasping for depth, for opportunities to move beyond the ephemeral flow of information and “suck out all the marrow of life,” as Thoreau put it.

I see it in the Salwen’s decision. I see it any number of blogger/entrepreneurs that I encounter trying to follow their passion and live life on their own terms. I see it in the apparent “spiritual thirst” of the younger generation.

My vision, I am sure, is distorted by the ways in which my own life has been changed by the Internet and the myriad influences it has brought. (To follow Thoreau’s lead and abandon it all seems awfully attractive at times!) Still, I have little doubt that there is a connection between the drive to act meaningfully and the challenges to our thinking that the Internet represents.

But enough – who needs a lengthy editor’s note that attempts to ponder big questions? Scroll on (or subscribe) for this month’s links, and as always, I look forward to any feedback you may wish to send my way. (For blog readers, this would mean commenting below 😉 )

Jeff

P.S. – Just use the form below or click subscribe if you would like to sign up to receive the Learning Monitor twice a quarter. I won’t use your e-mail address for any other reason. Period. And you can unsubscribe easily at any time.

About the Author Jeff Cobb

I am an avid lifelong learner who writes and speaks frequently on the critical role of learning in our fast-changing world.

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2 comments
Jeff Cobb says

Lora – Thanks so much. It is always nice to hear that the effort is appreciated! – Jeff

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Lora Adrianse says

Jeff,
I LOVE the Learning Monitor! Thanks for doing what you do! It’s really good stuff!

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