Learning to Learn When One Least Expects It
Educators are good at designing curricula and considering the pros and cons in the range of pedagogy that will make learning stick. But some of life’s biggest lessons can’t be easily designed or mastered even by the best teachers. Rather, they come when one least expects it: sitting in a car, interacting with a stranger at the supermarket, walking in nature.
If students are to have the chance to absorb important lessons from life’s random circumstances, teachers should help them remain open and alert to the possibility that they can learn something big at any moment. This may involve fostering a heightened awareness of everything around us or questioning things that we may otherwise take for granted. It’s a knack for connecting dots and holding juxtapositions comfortably. It’s entrepreneurial sensibilities that give students the confidence to put theoretical knowledge into practice and make a difference. And it’s a comfort with being uncomfortable when not knowing, taking risks and at times, failing.
These are all qualities that are essential to foster in today’s world but, because the conditions of the lessons have to be just right, they are difficult to plan or to build curriculum around. As educators, the most we can do is point out the unpredictable timing of these lessons, foster the acute mental awareness, and encourage students to remain awake to these possibilities throughout their lives. Once students hold and sustain this point of view, a world of learning opens up.