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Exercise Your Human Right to Learn

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Issue 6 – November 11, 2020

I’m taking a somewhat different approach to this edition. Given a recent surge in interest in this blog post – and the context of our current times – I decided to revise it substantially and share it in the newsletter. Enjoy. – JTC

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How deeply do you appreciate – and take advantage of – the freedom you have to learn and grow continually?

This post was originally written for Blog Action Day (which, alas, no longer exists) when the focus was on human rights. It struck me as a good prompt for stepping back and reflecting on learning as a right.

I’m not sure that the human will to learn can ever be fully extinguished, even in the worst of circumstances, but certainly it can be thwarted and damaged deeply. And certainly many of us are fortunate to live free from such worries, in conditions that provide an abundance of opportunities for learning and growth.

I know I, for one, do not always fully appreciate that fact. Maybe you feel the same.

I believe a significant part of preserving and strengthening rights is for those who have them to exercise them to the fullest extent possible. So, in that spirit, here are 10 brief suggestions for exercising your human right to learn.

1. Be conscious
Don’t just let life and learning happen to you. We learn a great deal unconsciously, but truly exercising your right to learn – and living life with intention and purpose – begins with making learning a conscious and intentional part of your daily life and committing to being truly available for learning.

2. Make time
We can’t help but learn continuously – it’s how we are wired – but real growth also requires focused time for learning and – as part of that process – reflection. So often, just getting it on your calendar is the better part of making it happen.

3. Be curious
It’s easy to slide into apathy. Don’t let that happen. Cultivate curiosityAsk questions. For that matter, ask better questions.

4. Take a risk or two
It’s very hard to learn effectively without sticking your neck out every now and again and experiencing a little stress. Make prudent risk-taking a part of your life.

5. Develop your learning habits
Don’t let the good habits you were taught (I hope) long ago slip away. Even simple habits like taking notes go a long way. Or take things further and leverage these power tips. Most of all, make learning itself a habit.

6. Act on your learning
Don’t let learning be just a theoretical exercise. Take a page from Benjamin Franklin and embrace the concept of “useful knowledge.” Put your learning to work.

7. Be an example
Don’t keep your devotion to learning a secret. Be an avatar – for the kids around you, for your family, for your peers and colleagues. Show your work. Learning is a right and a responsibility. Embrace it and show it off. As I have written elsewhere:

If we expect others to embrace the idea that continual learning is critical to thriving in today’s world – both for ourselves and for our organizations – then we must embody that idea.

8. Connect with others
Humans are social learners. We like to connect, share, and learn with others. There are countless opportunities for connecting with other learners – through trade and professional associations, on social networks, in online communities. Use them to connect and learn.

9. Take care of yourself
There really is no separation between mind and body. If you want to learn well, you need to eat well, sleep well, and exercise regularly.

10. Teach others
We’ve all heard it – and research suggests it’s true: one of the best way to learn something well is to teach it. And in teaching, you help others exercise their right to learn. The ‘ol “win-win.”

What would you add?

Best regards,

Jeff

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