Originally published on myRegence.com

Learning to Learn

Here’s a profoundly simple truth: you never stop learning.

Once you determine what kind of learner you are, the practical applications to your life — personal, professional, recreational — are pretty much limitless. Learning what kind of learner your spouse, children or grandchild are makes communicating with one another so much more pleasant.

Start by taking this simple multiple choice quiz. Don’t worry. There’re never wrong answers here.

At the end of an average day, when you are tired and ready for bed, ask yourself a simple question, “What did I learn today?” A variation that you may be more comfortable with is: “What do I remember from today?” Is it:

A) A conversation you had: a meeting with peers, a discussion about your child’s homework, or a phone call you made?

B) Something you saw: a poster, advertisement, TV program or a beautiful scene (or person)?

C) Something you did: a repair that you made, a presentation you gave, or a new driving route you took?

D) Something you heard (different from a conversation): something on the radio, a presentation someone gave, a “the doors are closing” messages in another language or a piece of music?

After you start to think about what sunk in during an average day, you are well on your way to learning how you learn.

Here’s your second question: In life’s café, how do you order up your information?

A) Do you prefer phone conversations over e-mails?

B) Do you need a shopping list at the store or a white board in the kitchen to remember your to-dos? Do you organize information into graphs?

C) Do you need to perform a physical action (hands-on repairs, assembling items, or learning a new software program for work) to retain information?

D) When your spouse or child calls, do you remember what they tell you without writing it down?

Is your main course of information a conversation, a list, a picture or an action? What about your side dishes? Are they similar or different?

Let’s give a label to the four areas we’ve mulled over. If you answered (for either or both questions):

A) You are a Social (Interpersonal) Learner.

B) You are a Visual Learner.

C) You are a Hands-on (kinesthetic not being a word most of us toss around) Learner.

D) You are an Auditory Learner.

Maybe, like me, you find you remember pictures, conversations, talk radio, and actions. I’m fortunate that I’m a strong auditory learner, but I can dabble in visual, social and hands-on. So, at the end of the day, I recall information from various sources. However, my strongest memories are from information I’ve heard.

Can you remember something without learning something? Sure. You remember your dog chewing on the couch but did you really learn anything from that experience? At least, anything that you didn’t already know?

Here’s the trick: can you learn something without remembering it? The answer is no. Learning styles and memory are intrinsically linked. So, the next exits on our lifelong learning journey will be optimal learning times and memory. Don’t forget to be here.

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