• Do well in the modern world: master the core skills you need for success

Lifelong Learning

“Learning is not a product”

Learning is a constant process. When we come into this world, we learn how to breathe, how to eat, how to get what we want, how to walk. Was it easy to learn to walk? Did we give up when we faced difficulties?

Of course, we don’t remember, but it is obvious that we kept trying. We invented some useful strategies, like crawling forward or backward towards some steady objects. Then we stood up and made our first steps, falling and practicing over and over again.

Has anything changed since then? Yes and no. On the one hand, everything has changed - now we have all necessary skills needed for living. Is it enough for having a good job or being successful in some areas? No, it is not.

We must continue improving ourselves, not just by learning but by learning effectively. Learning is living. We are alive as long as we learn, as long as we are mentally active, but we still should continue looking for the best ways for doing this.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Learning is not a product but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” Nowadays, this saying is a topical one as it has become impossible to stop learning.

For some people, learning exists only in terms of schooling, and a certificate or diploma is a ‘product’ that, in their opinion, is everything they need.

However, now you cannot just follow your job description and be sure that one day you won’t be told that you are not qualified enough for taking your position.

As companies are experimenting with new business models, technologies and strategies, you will need to be able to show flexibility and readiness to adapt to new requirements. This process will probably recur periodically, so we will have to relearn periodically, too. Lifelong learning should become our way of life.

Continuous self-education

So what does lifelong learning mean exactly? Professor Tom Schulter and Sir David Watson (IFLL) state that it covers “people of all ages learning in a variety of contexts – in educational institutions, at work, at home and through leisure activities. It mainly focuses on adults returning to organised learning rather than on the initial period of education or on incidental learning.”

Learning throughout life may be aimed at personal development (enabling personal growth) or professional development (improving employment opportunities).

Isaac Asimov, an author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, said, “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”

We can think of dozens of famous lifelong learners, among them:

  • Benjamin Franklin – Leading author, statesman, political theorist, inventor, scientist, and diplomat; took to learning on his own, working with people versed in topics like meteorology, gulfstreams and Italian.
  • The Wright Brothers – The duo that carried out the first controlled human flight and invented controls for fixed- wing aircraft; they were self-educated inventors and went on with studying the field of aviation.
  • Bill Gates – A business magnate, author, investor, and philanthropist who believes that self-improvement and continuous learning is crucial for success. He usually takes a copy of Time and reads it from cover to cover, not just looking through it, but absorbing everything to ensure that he learns some information he did not know before.

These great examples show that we should pay more attention to our development, both personal and professional, no matter what role we play in the history.

Every job is in the risk zone

Technical innovations have already made many jobs obsolete. With the emergence of mobile communication, the job of switchboard operators, without whom the operation of telephone networks was impossible, has become useless; they used to connect long-distance calls and perform other functions that are now done with the help of digital technologies.

Another example of such occupations is a job of typist or laundress. We do not say that these jobs have disappeared entirely, like bowling-alley pinsetters, lamplighters or milkmen, but they have become too rare and are certainty not the most promising career paths.

We may think that current jobs are quite stable and are not going to vanish soon. We are wrong if we think so.

According to numerous studies, in several decades such popular jobs as legal work, technical writing, accountancy and other white-collar occupations may become obsolete – replaced by artificial intelligence.

What about drivers? We are used to believing that driving is not possible without humans, but today in California we can already see Google’s self-driving cars. It is only a matter of time when these technologies will be available for wide use.

“Our findings imply that as technology races ahead, low-skilled workers will move to tasks that are not susceptible to computerisation — i.e., tasks that require creative and social intelligence,” wrote Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey from Oxford Martin School and Dr. Michael A. Osborne from the University of Oxford. “For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.”

Master your learning

So what should we make of all this? We should realize that relearning will be inevitable.

Unfortunately, studying may be accompanied by great costs, including spending a lot of time and making arduous efforts. Thus, it is perfectly logical that mastering methods of effective learning are an economically sound way to learn throughout life.

Clay P. Bedford, a top executive of Kaiser Industries, CA, said, “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”

So let Y Skills Institute be your provider of curiosity so as to become your lifelong learning guide.