11 MARCH 2018
written by Mike
In hindsight these two terms are identical, both mean acquiring knowledge and skills. However, for the purpose of this short post, I want to make a distinction – education as formal schooling and learning as personal development. In most countries in the world, people are legally required to attend a standard education system – to go to school.
In my home country, I had to attend kindergarten, primary school, grammar school and high school. After that most people reach 18th – the adult age. You can continue in higher education or start training for work.
My youngest brothers grew up in England, the UK and the system is quite similar there. There are different paths to choose, however, until you reach 16th you are expected to attend school. Again, after that, there are options for higher education as well as job training.
I’ve always loved reading and learning, acquiring new skills that interest me and following latest technological trends. Like most people I understand the value of schooling and put a lot of pressure on higher education – I’ve attended two higher education schools.
That’s what most successful people do, right?
Go to school, acquire skills, get a good job.
Unfortunately, with time, I became disillusioned with the system. I dropped out of one of the schools and decided to learn what other choices we have.
I realised that a lot of people tend to think that learning finishes after school, that’s when we are ready for work. The learning that happens after is usually linked with the career that we chose. Training at work, getting certificates, going to seminars.
To get a promotion, you need to learn new system and responsibilities; when you change a job, you need to learn things about new employer and how they do things.
However, for good and bad, when we attended school in our youth, we learn lots of different things. I might have liked one subject more than others but had to read and learn basics of geography, math, human studies, biology, music, history and many others.
That should be of course the first step to lifelong learning. Professional skills are essential in fast-changing job landscape. The times have changed, in the past, my grandfather had one job for 40 plus years. If you say to millennials that they have to stay in one place for that long, most will think you are joking.
To be few steps ahead, you need to think about additional knowledge, to develop critical thinking and to learn more about the world.
There are many ways to learn – books, podcasts, audio, online courses. Thanks to the internet there are plenty of free resources, there are also paid options much cheaper that higher education in some countries.
Setting time aside for learning will be crucial in further development, I understand it may be hard with full-time work on top, and it may mean cutting off leisure such as watching TV or gaming. However, in my opinion, if you learn about something that interests you and it’s beneficial to your life, it will be as exciting as getting another level in a game.
But there are so many options! Where do we start?
First, it is important to recognise where do you live and what do skills will be helpful to your life. There are many different cultures, economic systems, job markets so choose what benefits you now and for foreseeable future.
For example, I live in the UK so knowing the tax system here is helpful for me.
I could learn about Japan’s taxes, but apart from using that during a casual conversation with someone who has an interest, the knowledge has no benefit to me apart from taking up ‘space’ in my head.
A general point of view could be beneficial, but inside knowledge makes no sense.
Few areas to start considering:
To be able to stay ahead it’s important to recognise and learn about new trends, new opportunities and new ways of using the skills you already have. At most job places you will learn about what they already do, especially at established, big companies.
Find a new angle and either try to implement it at work or when the time comes, find a new job that allows you to develop in that direction.
For me, health is the priority. We know what we should and shouldn’t do to be healthy. But why? What is the science behind it?
Is meat terrible, or beneficial? What about sugar? Coffee?
Learning and researching different sources can often lead to contrasting views, but knowing what you should do regarding eating, exercising and healthy habits will go a long way, rather than relying on commercials and hearsay.
It all depends where you live, but in most countries, you need money to survive. Most find investments and money to be a boring subject, too complicated, too dry. In the same sentence, people tend to complain that they don’t have enough cash. My position is, to know how to make money, you need to learn how it works. Basics of monetary systems, currency, loans, savings and investments will help you in making your financial situation better.
It’s easy to say to you are either have social skills or don’t, however, when you enter the ‘adult’ world you will quickly learn that the skill of effective communication is the most crucial of all. It’s often not what you know, but who you know that will further you in life and career. On top of that add romantic relationships, family, friends. Learning about relationship dynamic, listening, communication and psychology will help you to become more understanding of others, make the partnerships more valuable.
It’s easy to judge others, especially others who do not come from the same place that we do. We often stand confused why others do what they do and don’t respect the same values. It can be religion, politics, business among many other differences. To argue your position is one thing, but to efficiently argue you will need to, at least try, understand the view of others.
If you were born in their position, would you behave the same?
Would you hold the same values? Would some ideas even make sense?
Travelling to other places is the best way to learn, however later in life it’s not always possible, so reading, watching and asking questions will often be your next best bet.
Lifelong learning is something that I advocate all the time. Start small, start with hobbies that can make your life better, then start adding more complicated ideas.
It’s better than video games because you are levelling up your life.
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