Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Your Learning
Earth day was a couple of weeks ago. I think it’s an important day, something that I hope is taken seriously in schools and can take a higher level of importance in peoples’ lives. It would be great for all people on the planet to realize there is only one earth– if we don’t treat it well and use good practices, future generations are going to have to colonize elsewhere.
And many people know the 3 R’s from earlier earth days – reduce, reuse, recycle. How do they apply to learning?
Reduce: How many tips and models can you remember? Simplify. Integrate. Connect. At a time when we seem to have fields of study that get smaller and smaller (the nano-sizing of knowledge), what has always impressed me is interdisciplinary learning, because although we may learn or work in a silo, life is not about silos, it’s about integration. I always loved classes and teachers who took this interdisciplinary approach, because you can then see how what your learning fits into a bigger picture. Reduce what you’re learning (or teaching) by integrating wherever you can.
Reuse: We use some excellent experiential exercises at Lake Forest Corporate Education. And the beauty of well-designed exercises is that they often lead to several different insights. Think about the exercises that you’ve taken in your life. What did you learn from them? Did they make several points, not just one? Why are they so memorable? Reuse them wherever you can. For example, I created a team building banquet exercise, but it’s not just for team building – it makes strong learning points for communication, leadership, problem solving and customer service, to name just a few skills. If you found or participated in a meaningful exercise, see what else it can apply to so you can in a sense “reuse” it. I’d love to hear from anyone about there favorite exercises.
Recycle: I don’t know about you, but I can hear lectures about time management, organizing skills, etc. a dozen times, and each time I learn and remember something new. I find that many “new” ideas are just old ideas repackaged. I’m not saying there isn’t new thinking out there, what I’m saying is some of the old, tried and true skills you’ve learned can always use a “brushing off” and “shining up.” Find the skills you really need and use and see what you’ve used before that can be recycled into “new learning.”
Earth day doesn’t just need to apply to physical things – it can apply to learning too. Follow the 3 R’s to ensure that your past learning can stay fresh and on top of your mind.
About this BlogThis is Howard's ongoing exploration of ways to increase and expand lifelong learning.