Learning on Your Own Terms

On July 23, 2012, in Advice, by Magnolia Guitar

Let me tell you a story. I have a friend that I’ve known for a very long time. And she’s great. She will remain nameless, but if she reads this, she’ll know who I’m talking about. And I’ll probably get a “talking to”, but I’m willing to risk it for your benefit.

This friend, she’s a country gal, and she knows what she likes and she knows what she doesn’t like. That is, until she changes her mind.

You know the type. She’s resistant to change.

But that’s not entirely true. She’s open to change … but on her terms.

I’d tell her things like, “yeah get this computer” or “listen to this band” and all I’d get in return is, “I like what I got right now. I’m not going to change it. End of story. Move along. Nothing to see here.”

Then one year, three years, five years and sometimes 10 years later, she’ll come around and say, “I love this [computer] or [band]!”

This used to drive me crazy, because I would reply, “If you’d only listened to me to begin with, you could have been enjoying [whatever it is] this entire time!”

You see for someone like me, who is a little OCD, loves organizing things and constantly seeks efficiencies, I think of all the missed opportunities. But for her, it simply comes down to enjoying what she has, when she has it and on her own terms. When it’s time to change, she’ll know.

We both get to the same place, eventually, but we take different routes… at different times… by a different schedule. And that’s ok.

As a teacher, I accept that everyone learns at a different rate. I’m constantly reminding my students that the only person you need to compare yourself to is yourself. There will always be someone better. But if you improved over yesterday, then you’re right on schedule.

Because education, any kind of education, isn’t achieved just in a classroom. It’s a way of living.

We have to think of learning not as some sort of punishment to withstand for 12-, 16- or 20-years in something called “school”. Learning should be something we’re excited about doing every day!

Every day I learn something new and it never ceases to excite me. And your brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the faster you learn. And the faster you learn, the more fun learning is!

In that way, it’s just like the guitar. The techniques in which I learn a new song is the same as those I teach a beginner. But what they achieve in a month, I can do in minutes. Not because I’m cooler, but just because I’ve practiced. I put in the hard work and now learning is FUN!

I don’t give my friend a hard time any more. She lives far away and it’s harder to tease her about it. But in truth I know that she comes to learn and accept new things on her schedule and she’s perfectly happy with it. And I’m happy with it too.


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