Learning at Home
With Simon Gooch
“I’m going to learn a foreign language, or maybe I will start a new hobby. Perhaps I can go back to college or learn how to mend a flat tyre.”
Does this sound familiar? It’s something that probably rings true for many people. And often the common excuse we give ourselves is that ‘I don’t have enough time to do any of these things.’
Sport and exercise have always been hobbies of mine throughout my life, and I’ve always followed a mantra whenever trying out a new sport or type of exercise: “I never lose. I either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela
I am a firm believer of lifelong learning. Whether it is reflecting on the day just past, challenging yourself to try something new or simply asking an inquisitive question – lifelong learning is an excellent way to keep each day interesting and to expand your horizons.
Here is some advice on how to pursue those ambitions you have brushed aside in the past because there is no better time than the present to learn something new.
Learn how to learn
Perhaps this an unusual concept, but it is important to formulate an approach to learning in order to build consistency and success.
Everybody is different and everyone learns differently.
This is how I approach learning:
Ingest – Take time to ingest the information you’ve just learned. No matter what you’re trying to learn, it’s easier to take in new information in short, manageable chunks. No one can learn something completely in a whole day – give yourself time to understand what you’ve read or watched, and reflect on it.
Identify – Are there any key concepts or ways you can remember the information you are learning?
For me, breaking down a concept or finding a fun way to remember it makes it easier to understand.
In school, most of us will remember a few ways in which we were taught to remember key concepts.
For instance, when we learnt ‘I before E except after C’ at school to help with our spelling. Or, the mnemonic ‘My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas’ to help us remember the order of the planets in the solar system.
No matter how old you are, you can still use these ideas as a fun way to remember something new.
Challenge – Can you use the information you have learnt in practice?
For example, if you are learning French this could involve having a conversation with someone who speaks that language.
Teach – Pretend to be an expert. Can you convey the information to another person? You can practice teaching someone by looking in the mirror, recording yourself speaking or simply calling up a friend and telling them what you’ve learned. This really challenges you to understand and breakdown the information further.
“But I’m stuck inside, what and where can I learn?”
There are different ways to put what you’ve learnt into practice and learning doesn’t always have to be about reading a book or completing a course online.
For instance, you could try your hands at a DIY project such as putting up a new shelf or refurbishing an old piece of furniture.
Or perhaps something a bit more crafty? For instance, when I was 21 years old, I went through a cross stitch phase (a little unusual I know), but I found it very relaxing (albeit the needle pricks).
Another important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be alone in this journey.
It can be fun to learn alongside someone you live with or maybe with a friend who lives on the other end of the country. For example, you and a friend could join a Zoom yoga class online and both learn about this form of zen exercise. Learning together can be a great opportunity to build upon friendships and stay connected with those you love.
Perhaps you want to further your job prospects with a new skill or qualification?
Traditionally you would have had to attend a brick and mortar establishment to do this, however with the advances in technology we have today there are lots of accredited online courses available that give you the flexibility to learn at your pace. Depending on your personal circumstances some of these can be free.
Below is a list of online learning platforms to get you started
WikiHow – https://www.wikihow.com/
WikiHow is a one stop shop for everything you can think off. Fancy making a poncho for your dog? Want to learn how to style your hair like the 10th Doctor Who? Or maybe try something more practical like how to crochet a teddy bear to gift to a friend? WikiHow has a how-to guide for that.
Describing itself as authoritative and trustworthy, WikiHow utilises 500 expert co-authors who often use academic research in their articles.
If you had to teach an alien how to make a cup of tea, this is the resource I would use. Professionally illustrated step-by-step guides are easy to follow and especially great for small projects.
Future Learn – https://www.futurelearn.com/
Future Lean is a website which hosts free, short courses provided by leading Universities and organisations, with a variety of learning methods used including videos, articles and short quizzes.
Many topics are available to tickle your fancy.
Have a great idea for a business? Becoming an entrepreneur with the University of Leeds Starting a Business course.
For people affected by cancer, one course you can do is: An Introduction to Radiation Oncology: From Diagnosis to Survivorship (Trinity College Dublin), this course has been designed for patients who may undergo radiation as part of their cancer treatment plan.
Open Learn – https://www.open.edu/openlearn
Open Learn is an Open University resource which provides free learning across a wide range of topics. Maybe you would like to volunteer for a local community group, then why not try the Introduction to Bookkeeping and Accounting course or prepare for your next holiday with Beginner’s French.
These courses are great in preparing you for further study if you have had some time out and want to access more structured learning from a college or university.
These are only a few of many resources that you can access at home, the internet is great for keeping connected and learning. Go out there and explore but most importantly have fun whilst you learn.
Simon Gooch is the Health Education Officer for Big C.