Years ago, when I was in school, undergrad maybe; I had a day that was so chocked full of learning that I declared that I would not learn anything the next day. I said that in jest, but I think I really intended to give my brain a breather.
You can’t not learn. As long as you’re conscious, you are bound to learn something. If you watch tv you’ll see a commercial and learn about a new product. If you look in the mirror you’ll learn that there’s a blemish on your face that you hadn’t noticed before, or that you have a new gray hair. Information is just flowing into your eyes, ears, nose and your skin all the time. Most of that information doesn’t get consciously processed, but a lot of it does. I’m no brain scientist, but I think some of the things we don’t think we processed get filed away and called up when we need it.
Okay, that was my mini essay on learning. What I wanted to say in this post is that today I learned something about the way I learn. I found that if I’m trying to learn a procedure, and it absolutely confounds me, I am not going to figure it out by reading instructions that outline a similar procedure. I need to have someone show me something as close to the real thing as it can get.
Now that was a blanket statement. There have probably been times when I’ve figured things out by seeing examples that weren’t quite so close to my particular problem. Today was not one of those times. Instead of continuing to bang my head against the wall trying to figure out how to do this thing, I asked for help. Voila, those little outlier dots got connected.
I know what I’m doing now, so the hard work can begin again.
That’s the moral. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to look dumb, because it’s better to look dumb for a minute than to be dumb for a lifetime.