Getting your hands dirty


Today’s daily prompt touches on a topic that is close to my heart. I couldn’t resist the temptation writing about this; I normally don’t write a lot about such topics.

Why does one need to keep learning? A few years back I was under the impression that I was done learning. After having spent nearly two decades going through the various levels of schooling and after that college, I was fed up. I had collected a bunch of degrees and certificates. I was under a false impression that I had done it all. That I was the master of everything. And shortly thereafter I fell on my face. I came face to face with reality the hard way – that learning can never end. Change is the only constant. This is the only truth that matters.

Learning is a never-ending process. Why? Because problems keep changing by the second. So, you can’t expect their solutions to remain the same. You can’t rest on previously held knowledge, you have to raise the bar every day. Be curious. Ask questions, seek answers.

How is it that one learns? I’ve experienced different techniques of learning. Here are a few techniques that come to my mind straight away-

1. Getting trained

This is probably the simplest and least effort taking method. Getting trained is easy; you pick up a couple of books on the subject or situation you want to tackle, and start studying. Or you hire a coach who has experience on the subject to train you. The reason I say this is simple, is because the scope of learning is limited. You have a specific problem or subject, and you learn how to handle this in a standard, repeatable fashion. The method seems similar to programming a robot, because the focus here is to solve a problem in the most efficient way by following standard, previously available procedures. This method isn’t applicable for all problems, just like you can’t fit a round peg in a square hole.

2. Learning by example

So you see someone doing things right. They could be your role models, parents, siblings, teachers, friends, or simply people you travel together with. You study their behavior; watch them as they go about their life. Learning by example is good for tackling problems or situations that may or may not be repeatable in nature, but there is a generally accepted way to handle these situations. For example, moral dilemmas and good social etiquette come under this umbrella. Again, you are bound to use your own good judgment, as the solutions employed by others may not be the best for you.

3. Getting your hands dirty

When all else fails, this is definitely the way to go. This could involve finding solutions to a new problem, or when no information is available on how to tackle relatively complex situations. Or when previously employed solutions don’t work for you. In cases like this, it’s best to jump right in and wing it. This is a high risk technique, and you might end up making mistakes and probably getting hurt in the process. But the learning you receive is invaluable and could help others tackling a similar problem in the future. You can’t learn to swim without jumping in the water. You can’t make a piece of art without getting your hands dirty. (I’ll stop now, you get the idea…)

More often than not, I’ve needed option 3. What does your experience tell you? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

© 2013 Mihir Kamat
Featured image courtesy of Google.
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3 thoughts on “Getting your hands dirty

  1. Pingback: Learning Style | Kansa Muse

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