Learning is an important part of self improvement and growth. This seems to be a known fact, at least in theory. In practical terms, however, what exactly is learning, and when does it happen?

What is learning?

Merriam-Webster defines learning as:

1: the act or experience of one that learns
//a computer program that makes learning fun

2: knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
//people of good education and considerable learning

3: modification of a behavioral tendency by experience
(such as exposure to conditioning)

When does learning happen?

Learning happens throughout a person’s life, but try googling “how does learning happen” and you’ll see most of the results that pop up are related to children’s learning. Adults learn, too.

Most adults are constantly trying to improve their lives in some way. To do this, they acquire new knowledge in their daily life, read self-help books, learn new skills for their jobs, study various subjects at school.

A lot of adults’ learning, however, involves unlearning what they have been taught before, what they have accepted without critical thinking, what they have believed as true for a long time.

The third definition Merriam-Webster offers is “modification of a behavioral tendency by experience.” This “modification” or unlearning is not easy. In a way, it’s more difficult than learning for the first time.

Unlearning is like quitting a bad habit. It takes a lot of energy. It requires actively replacing what your brain has carefully saved by something else.

Many parents, intending to protect their little ones, don’t let them take any risks. The impact of these risk-averse parents’ behavior on their children’s learning is serious.

Taking risks is part of growing up and learning. Without it, children will not have the opportunity to discover new things for themselves or the confidence to have their own identity. How are they then expected to think for themselves?

If all children have learned is to be afraid of trying new experiences, they will simply not learn. As adults, if they want to grow, they have to go through the difficult process of unlearning every fear they have acquired.

This is why teaching children to think for themselves is so important.

“Children are not vessels to be filled but lamps to be lit.” — SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA, Indian Spiritual Leader

Nika Paradis is an introvert bravely spreading her wisdom on self-development, writing, and reflexology. All her stories are based on her life experience.

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