The Gift of Lifelong LEARNING
Written By: Robert Gross
At about age nine, I first learned all about the existence of the wonderful world of libraries. On my first library visit—for which I begged my dad for weeks to take me—I quickly discovered Landmark Books. The Landmark series was published by Random House Publishing and was the brainchild of Random House co-founder, Bennett Cerf. Cerf would later also become a famous early pioneer television personality, most notably appearing as a regular panelist on What’s My Line.
Landmark was a series of biographies and histories targeted for an audience of ten to fifteen year olds and written by some of America’s best foremost historians. The series came about when Cerf couldn’t find a suitable book for his own children about the pilgrims and concluded that Random House was just the publisher to enlist historians to write about America’s heritage for younger readers.
During its nearly twenty-five year run, the Landmark series became a treasure trove for young audiences and the inspiration for a whole generation of future historians. It also became my own gateway into a lifelong love of American history and learning. Reading became a personal passion and favorite hobby. More importantly, although I did not know it as a youngster, the Landmark series launched my own lifelong love of learning.
Each of us is or can become a lifelong learner. Although the term lifelong learning is often defined as learning outside of formal schooling for personal development, in more recent years, lifelong learning has evolved to include a continuation in all of our intellectual, emotional, and experiential learning. Now, the importance of lifelong learning is a vibrant necessity for successful living and livelihood, whether in pursuit of personal interests and passions or professional and career ambitions.
The pursuit of lifelong learning is a natural outgrowth of our humanity. We humans have an innate and natural drive to grow, learn, and explore and improve the quality of our lives. We have interests outside our formal schooling and careers. Those interests are part of what it means to be human—we each have natural curiosity. Each of us is a natural learner, although each of us may pursue different paths in our learning. Lifelong learning deeply enriches our individual sense of self-worth by allowing us to pursue the things that inspire us. Personal fulfillment and development come from our natural interests and our individual curiosity and motivations. No two of us are exactly the same.
As global technology guru, Toby Redshaw, recently told our Med One senior leadership team and board, the explosive advances in information technology and systems is ushering in a “4th Industrial Revolution” in all that surrounds us, and neither individuals nor organizations can afford to be left behind. At a minimum, our individual lifelong learning is essential to thrive in the world around us and the world of the future. It is the changing constant that allows us deeply satisfying personal fulfillment and the vital connection to the world in which we live.
Lifelong learning is essential in today’s world to meet the personal and professional challenges of today and those of tomorrow.
Educational psychologists recognize many tangible and intangible benefits that come from lifelong learning:
► Realization of personal interests and goals. Igniting or reigniting the fires within us makes life infinitely more fascinating. Moreover, lifelong learning provides springboards in opportunities that result in unforeseen ways.
► Improvements in our professional and personal skills toolbox. While learning a new skill or acquiring knowledge, we equip our brains with the ability to expand our learning and acquire additional skills and aptitudes. During the past two decades, neuroscientists have discovered the brain’s ability to acquire new neural pathways of knowledge and information as it essentially sharpens itself as part of a process known as “neuroplasticity.” Such skill development can include enhancing interpersonal skills with others, problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, expanding individual leadership tools, allowing us to see the interrelationships of things, situations, and people around us—our situational awareness, and increasing our conversational and emotional intelligence, and adaptability.
► Improved self-confidence and sense of selfworth. Becoming more knowledgeable increases our sense of self-worth, which can thereby enhance our self-confidence. How? By providing us with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment and increasing our trust in ourselves that we can meet new challenges and the tasks before us.
► Keeps us connected. The world is changing. Our jobs are evolving. Our relationships with others grow. Lifelong learning keeps us connected to the changes around us and anchors us to others in our lives. It allows us to stay relevant—to ourselves and others—by promoting self-satisfaction and a sense of wholesomeness. It is its own reward. It brings us pleasure and joy.
Lifelong learning is essential in today’s world to meet the personal and professional challenges of today and those of tomorrow. It is enormously self-fulfilling. It allows us to be our best by growing, evolving, and adapting. It is its own reward. It allows us to reach the potential within and a role model for those around us. I encourage you to continue your quest of conscientious lifelong learning:
► Recognize the things that interest you, your personal passions, your goals and aspirations. Think about what excites you, makes you, and what goals you’d like to accomplish.
► List and prioritize your aspirations and goals and catalogue the things that can enable you to pursue your personal quest of learning.
► Schedule and prioritize the things in your way to include opportunities to think, plan, read, listen, interact or interact with others in meaningful way.
► Just do it, embrace it, and enjoy it!
Thank you Landmark, and to all in between then and now!