Like a garden, discover the essentials for growing your learning, including support for learning, exposure to new ideas and topics, a love of what you’re learning, and the space in your busy schedule to learn.
- Sometimes people don't buy it when I tell them that they have hidden skills and knowledges. That's when I tell them that they're a garden, a learning garden. Your skills and your interests are like little seeds with a lot of them still under the ground. Even the ones that have grown still have roots under the ground. So we're often blind as to why we're so good at these skills or know so much about this topic. So if having a visual image of yourself as a growing and changing person is helpful to you, then you can think of learning in the same way.
Now, in a real garden, what does it take for seeds to thrive? It takes four things: good soil, sunlight, water, and enough space to grow. A good gardener knows how to make sure all of these are available to have a healthy garden. And that's what seeds need to grow. So what does it take for you to grow as a learner? The soil is your environment. Wherever you're given the chance to start experimenting with the kinds of things you're interested in and to find out if you enjoy doing them, well, that's your environment.
Now, sometimes having poor soil, a poor learning environment, just means you have to work harder to learn. But a good learning environment, good soil, is really helpful to begin growing your skills. What else do you need in your learning garden? Support from other people. Having permission and encouragement from others to be a learner is crucial for many people. When someone cares about you and encourages you, when someone sees what you're doing and compliments you on the awesome job that you're doing, that can help your love of learning to grow.
But if someone close to you doesn't give you that permission or doesn't think you can learn, then you're not in a supportive environment for learning and you probably need to go find better soil. When you discover you're curious about something or you find a topic that looks cool or you read an article or a book on a new subject or something explains something really interesting to you, then you shed light on that subject or skill. Suppose you've always been curious about a subject but never had a chance to learn more. Suddenly you read an article or you take a short course.
Now you know enough to be dangerous on the topic. Sunlight comes pouring in and your interest has the chance to grow. Or let's say you're given the chance to do something you've never done before, like draw a cartoon or make something with a 3D printer or lead a project. Think of that as having light shed on a subject as well. Now, even if a seed has good soil and sunlight, it usually can't grow without water. Think of water as the love of what you're learning. When you're learning about something you love, you're giving that subject the water that it needs to grow.
The more you love learning about it, the more you'll keep learning about it, the more you'll know about the subject, and the more it will grow. Now, having space to grow is, well, having space to grow. You need the time and circumstances that allow you to learn. If your time is crowded with work or with the distractions of everyday life, you'll find it far more difficult to learn. Even with encouragement and exposure to new ideas and a love of a particular topic, the other tangled plants and weeds or your daily activities can choke any new opportunity for learning before it has a chance to grow.
You have to give yourself the space you need to learn. So, to grow your learning garden, it's really helpful to have all four of these things: support for learning, exposure to new ideas and topics, a love of what you're learning, and the space in your busy schedule to learn. Make sure you have all these things. And, well, that just means your learning garden will bloom.