Gary passed on this challenge a while back “What was the last thing you really learned on purpose? I don’t mean something that you learned in passing. I mean something you went out of your way to find out about. Not because you had to but because you wanted to.” …and I have been thinking about it ever since.
I must admit that I find it difficult to remember the last time that I deliberately learned something that I did not have to learn. I have learned many things in passing because I have several interests – primarily in education, school libraries and technology – for which I have structured my learning environment and my personal learning network. I am constantly reading, viewing, listening and following links that support these interests.
I do remember several learning challenges the most recent of which was creating school websites using Drupal. I had absolutely no reference for the application and no individuals nearby to ask for advice. I did however find the advice, support and direction I needed from the web. My learning process was very similar to that described by Joan Vinall Cox in her post, An Autodidact is Social.
At the moment I am not deeply involved in activities outside of the world of education that spur learning. When I was the president of the Board for Save the Children Canada I was constantly learning about Board management and international development. When I was an ardent traveler I immersed myself in learning about the places in which I planned to travel and as a young runner I immersed myself in fitness lore and technique. Now, however, I am content with armchair traveling and enjoying turning the pages of travel books such as Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux.
I am confident in my capacity as a learner, both from experience and from growing up in a family of learners. I know that when ready to move into another unfamiliar area I will anticipate and be prepared to deal with the messiness, the uncertainty and the thrill of the learning process.