How Do I Acquire New Knowledge?

by danny_ellison | May 8, 2014 | Blogs 0 Comments

back to the futureUpon first glance, in my own opinion, the question “How do I acquire new knowledge?” comes across as too formal and disconnected, and leaves me wondering, well, nothing really. It doesn’t really do justice to the importance of the point of the question itself. Perhaps a better way to ask this question is to first consider another question “Why does it matter?” How do I acquire new knowledge? Well, why does it matter how I acquire new knowledge?

I was once a young high school student, and yes, I struggled with the question “Why does all of this matter?” I was interested in my vehicle, which to me at the time represented absolute independence. I was interested in music, which to me was a necessary distraction from some of the pressures life had to offer at the time, such as the responsibility of school work and the thought of the impending and ever-closing-in future. I was fearfully interested in the opposite sex, although I would never have admitted that at the time. And, I was great at strategically avoiding too much commitment to my actual school work, committed just enough to get by, but not enough to thrive or to do my very best.

The question “Why does all of this matter?” was aimed only at the stuff I had to do, such as keeping my grades sufficiently above failing, but not at the things I loved to do, such as tearing up the pavement in my truck or playing music. As a 32 year-old “grown-up” I now often look back on my life and wonder how things would have been different had my primary focus been on things that really mattered for my future. It’s not that I’m in a bad spot in life now. Quite the opposite, I am very happy with my life now, it just took me a good while to get to this point, much longer that it should have taken, in my own self-critical view.

I, like many of you reading this post, was never poignantly asked the question “How do I acquire new knowledge?” Therefore, I never really considered the question for myself at critical times in my life. Instead, I drifted, like a broken-down ship at sea, just hoping that the current would lead me in the right direction that would take me to somewhere “happy” in life. Intentionality. Intentionality would have been the difference-maker for me, but I just didn’t have the guidance, or personal maturity, to be intentional about the important futuristic, forward-thinking things in life, like the answer to our question.

The very first question that E3G students are asked to consider is “How do I acquire new knowledge?” but they are asked in a less disconnected and lack-luster way than the question implies. They are quickly taught about the importance of active learning versus passive learning, and they are given an assessment to help them understand their own personal blend of learning styles so that they may have some tools for active learning. They are gently taught that the burden of teaching is on the teachers that they are privileged to learn from, BUT, the burden of learning is, and always will be, on themselves.

How many of you reading this would love the opportunity to put life on pause, get in Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine, and give some aspect of high school the good ole’ college try once more, knowing what you know now? How many of you want for your own children the opportunity to consider these things earlier in life, proactively and intentionally, so that they don’t ever question their pride in their own high school achievements, both academically and otherwise?

There are no perfect answers in life, and we will always be mistake-prone humans who cannot, or will not, be programmed. But, E3G can guarantee one thing, which is that any half-committed E3G student will not be able to look back and wonder what life would be like had someone come alongside them and asked them critical questions such as, “How do I acquire new knowledge?”

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