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The 7 Archenemies of Learning

These are:


Perhaps most blatantly seen these days in our excessive consumption of information via the Internet. The constant clicking and needless mental processing doesn’t allow enough space for digestion, reflection, and constructing real meaning – the very essence of learning.


Everything we carry with us from the past – biases, beliefs, the wrongs we have suffered, the losses that have wounded us. These are stumbling blocks on the path to learning, often blocking it entirely.


Periodic, even prolonged solitude has great value. It provides space for learning. But, as Dewey put it “isolation makes for rigidity and formal institutionalizing of life, for static and selfish ideals within the group.” And Dewey was writing well before  social media made excessive homophily a pervasive danger.


The passive process of simply not noticing new things, to flip Ellen Langer’s definition of mindfulness. As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve explored the myths of mindless learning before.


Pride. Lack of humility. However you want to phrase it. Arguably the worst of the 7 deadly sins (“Pride goeth before the fall.”) and certainly pervasive in the top ranks of the United States government right now, where very little learning seems to be happening.


Fundamentally, a desire to avoid risk. An inability to muster courage in the face of those new and uncomfortable things we (hopefully) notice.


A failure to do the work, to embrace the stress often necessary for learning, to find the discipline necessary to show up consistently, practice, and make use of the feedback that makes it possible to improve.

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