Who is a learner and how is a learner different from a student? Why must we aim to be a learner?
In the big scheme of life, a learner is someone who has taken the charge of the self, learning as per the need, context and purpose of one’s life at a given point of time.
A learner is different from a student in many ways.
A learner does not necessarily learn in the confines of a class room and is very often not directed by a teacher while a student necessarily learns inside a class room and is directed by a teacher.
To use an analogy A learner drives the car while a student sits in the backseat of the car being driven by teacher.
What are those essential attributes to make us learners for life and set us for success? The mindset of success rests on the premises of being a learner as;
- Learners have a purpose.
- Learners go well along with people.
- Learners have courage to ask questions.
- Learners are quick to adapt through learn, unlearn and relearn.
- Learners have strong core values.
To set oneself free on the journey of being a learner, one must check for following attributes in the self;
- Do we ask Questions?
Learners just don’t accept anything and everything that comes their way. They are driven by curiosity, seek genuine answers, and check for authenticity of the facts. They don’t take the explanation that ‘this is how it happens’. They question set norms, beliefs, traditions and practices which no longer serve purposes.
For example learners might ask..
- Why is it alright to eat non-vegetarian food but it is not alright to eat that on Tuesdays and Thursdays?
- Why are homosexual couples not allowed the Right to Inherit?
- Why do we have three different titles to write before a woman’s name, viz Ms, Miss & Mrs and only one for men i.e. Mr.
- How are we better humans if we consider our religion to be better than others?
Learners seek their own answers and don’t stop until they have a logic that appeals to their mind.
- Do we have a Purpose?
Everybody in life has a purpose. The thug who is set out to cheat people also has a purpose. But these life learners have a bigger purpose of life. They are driven by a passion to serve, to contribute to the bigger cause. So they are ever ready to know and learn whatever it takes to contribute to their cause.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, whom I consider an extraordinary example of a life learner had a purpose, he wanted to contribute to the progress of the country. He continued on his journey from a small town boy, born into a very poor family to become a scientist and later on as the President of India. Very few of us know that even after retiring from his Presidentship (2007), he was still working on scientific pursuits. He had developed a rugged tablet ( used in health care services) in collaboration with cardiologist Soma Raju, named Kalam Raju tablet n 2017.
These lifelong learners have bigger than life goals. They are passionate beyond common man’s understanding of the word passion.
Mother Teresa is another example. We can look for such learners around us and get inspired.
- Do we go well along with people ?
Learners often go well along with people. They have high intra personal skills and interpersonal skills. In the pursuit of their passion to serve humanity, mankind, they understand that like minded people are their best assets. They form teams and nurture their team members. They support their team to learn and be at their best because they understand they alone would not be able to serve their purpose. It is the people who work together. They are good at collaborations with people.
- Are we flexible to adapt without compromising on our Core Values?
These learners have a mindset to learn, unlearn and relearn. They continuously keep learning new skills; innovate on the already existing ways of working to suit the current needs. Overall they are dynamic people, who flow with the tide. They show no resistance to change, rather take the lead to initiate or accept it. They keep rediscovering and reinventing themselves, check their own belief systems for authenticity and come up with new avatars of themselves. Though flexible, to adapt, to learn new skills and new ways of working, they have strong core values; like integrity, authenticity and humanity. They change and adapt only to be able to serve their purpose. For example leveraging technology in their favor sincerely is an attempt by them to be serving mankind better in any chosen field.
So let us all shake ourselves and check do we have any or all of these attributes? Can we consciously inculcate the ones that we don’t have?
Let us begin with questioning ourselves, as to why do I do what I do? Do I serve some purpose? Does it serve some bigger purpose? Am I ready to unlearn ( all my non working belief systems) and learn fresh to start on a new journey.
Remember; those who have some ‘WHY’ will always find ‘HOW’ to it.
Set yourself to be a LEARNER and be SUCCESSFUL in the journey of life!!!