Embracing Lifelong Learning

Michelangelo was at the ripe old age of 87 when he said, “I’m still learning.” From Michelangelo to Eleanor Roosevelt to Gandhi, they have all spoken of the need to foster a love of learning that never ends. Learning is the foundation for continuous self-improvement, excellence and innovation. In this constantly changing world, where globalization and rapidly moving technological advances can be seen almost every day, we need to be aware that we are constantly being called to learn new technologies and skills to keep up with the changes.

Only 50 years ago, it was possible to finish your college degree, move into a job, and work out the rest of your days within the same company. These days, it has been said that the average person changes their job between ten to fifteen times during the course of their career. This is partly due to technological advances over the years; so many jobs have become obsolete, taken over by robotics or automated in some form. Technology continues to make jobs obsolete, giving us even more reason to continue learning well after our formal schooling, to ensure we stay competitive in today’s job market. With a flexible and adaptive attitude towards learning, you can now create your own job through learning a new skill; by teaching yourself everything you need to know and using this as a gateway to self-employment and starting your own business.

There is also research that has shown that keeping your mind healthy is one of the best ways to stay healthy well into your later years. An active mind throughout life has been proven to keep you living longer and healthier. It can also help keep certain conditions at bay, with research showing that older people who stay cognitively active are 2.6 times less likely to develop conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Consider, too, that life itself is an education. We are always learning, throughout everything we do in our daily lives. Learning does not start at formal education in schools – it starts much earlier, when we are born, when we begin to understand the world around us through our interactions with our parents and caregivers. Formal education follows, with school and college, but there are many other types of learning we undertake during life.

Self-directed learning gives students the opportunity to control the pace and style of learning – this might be through online courses that allow students to undertake them at their own pace. Professional learning takes place in one’s career, through professional development on the job, often funded by the company. Informal learning takes place through watching YouTube videos, or television documentaries, or even through reading books at the library and conversations with friends. New relationships, travel and the world around you will also expose you to new ideas and opportunities to learn.

In truth, we can’t escape a life filled with learning. Instead, let us embrace the world around us and the opportunities it presents to learn and grow. As the world turns, technology advances and the future draws near, we can stay alert and prepared by embracing a love of lifelong learning.

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