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Teach Children To Learn How To Learn

If you haven't already noticed, the days when people stay with a single employer for the rest of their lives have gone the way of the dinosaurs, along with artisan skills that take a lifetime to master.

I just finished watching an episode of the n-th iteration of the Condor Heroes, where physical pugilistic skills were the key barter for food, money and respect. Nowadays, such physical skills will only earn you a place in the CID's blacklist of "disturbers of public peace".

The Industrial Age has come and gone, and with 2 World Wars to show for it.  It has taught humans how they can improve their productivity (and destructive capability) through automation – how products superior to what they can make with their own hands can be churned out in minutes in the exact same dimensions and functionalities. And it is no longer about who can produce the most products, but rather who can create new products with features that make their predecessors completely obsolete and redundant.

We have been in the Information Age for the last half century, where knowledge itself is now desired and marketable as an end-product called intellectual property.  It was not so long ago that people equated time in Information Technology to dog years – what took 7 years to complete is now done in 1.  The scary thing is that this phenomenon is not only true, but has already permeated throughout our global economy.  With information being available at an instance without having to go and pour through thick books in libraries or news archives, a research that would have taken 7 months to do can easily be done in 1.  We suffer not from the lack of information, but rather the lack of time or tools to process the information as effectively as humanly possible.

It is against this very stressful backdrop that we are bringing up our kids.  We may not know how the future will pan out, but what we know for certain is that things will only move and change faster.  In the future, it will not be surprising that people will have an average of 20 jobs in their entire career.  It is not about loyalty to a company, but what is the value you bring to the company, and how your experience in that company will create the momentum for you to move on to your next job.

The key to success is agility.  And the only way to achieve agility is to have the ability to learn and adapt quickly to changing conditions.  We must teach our children the joy of learning, that the subject they are learning is not the end, but more importantly, the learning journey itself.  It is not about mastering math or science, but rather, the process we took when learning the subjects.  We must teach our children to use tools that can accelerate their learning, so that they can pick up new skills quickly and effectively.  We must open the minds of our children by bringing to their awareness things that are happening around them, expose them to as many new skills as possible, and give them every opportunity to explore new areas by themselves.


Knowing how to learn is the most impt skill

Chief, I have noticed this change in my own career. The skills I learnt in Uni are mostly long-forgotten. I have had to constantly learn new technical skills, and have had to acquire people skills and communications skills that were never “taught” to me. The biggest game-changer has been the internet. There was no internet when I was growing up. If I was curious about something, I asked my parents or other elders. If they knew, I got some answers. Otherwise I had to contend with never knowing. The internet has changed this paradigm. I have read so much and learnt so much since the late 90s! And for my child, her growing up years are vastly different because of the internet. If she asks a question and I cannot answer, we both just “google it”. 🙂 As long as she can learn by reading up, she can do anything with her life. Aside from being able to persuade people, being able to self-learn is the most impt skill in today’s world.

Character building

Dear GarangMama, thank you for your feedback!  Actually, the under-pinning message of my article is really to stress on the importance of getting children to enjoy and learn how to learn, versus simply telling them to learn a subject or skill without ourselves fully understanding or properly explaining to them the importance of that skill.  I was not trying to say that results-oriented learning is more important than the softer skills such as character building, etc.  We actually dealt with that in this poll that we did some months back.  As you can see from that poll, very few parents actually believe that results are as important as other softer skills.

I fully agree that a person with a great deal of IQ and knowledge is as useful as a robot without scruples, and that our principles give us the meaning of living and a sense of purpose.

Learning to Learn or Learning to Live?

Sometimes I wonder if we’re fishing for our children or teaching them to fish? Do we make them learn for the sake of learning, or teach them to learn to live? And by that, I don’t mean for sustenance, but rather to appreciate the meaning to live, fulfilling their destinies in life. Again by that, I don’t mean living out the unfulfilled destinies that we failed to achieve, but really following their dreams.

No offence, Chief Kiasu. Learning is important, especially in these transient times where affairs of the world are happening at a much faster pace, and at a greater scale. It does get scary when you are out of the loop. What I’m saying is, we should show the significance of these learnings. Why do we need to learn math? How about bringing that lesson to life when they beg to go on one of those kiddie rides? Why are most leaves green, but some leaves red? A walk in the park might unravel those mysteries. When the little minds are exposed to things beyond the tactile, the seen, thus the impetus to learn, to read, might be enhanced.

Before throwing all the tools of learning to these  young minds, we need to show them the way to employ them. For the same tools for learning, can also be used for destruction. Guess where all the self-made bombers get their ‘lessons’ in making bombs from?

Really we ought to teach them the right from the wrong, the wise from the unwise, before we can unleash the whole ‘force’ of learning unto the young impressionable minds.

For even amongst the pugilistic world, jiang1 hu2 dao3 yi4 (the sense of justice and integrity) is valued more than one’s fighting skills. 



How to learn and apply

1.  Listen carefully and understand the concept while teacher teach or reading. To make sure no need to revise at home or second time. Ask when in doubts. After listen, the knowledge already inside the memory drawer waiting for apply.

2. When do any works or homeworks, do it one time only in a clear mind. No need to double check after doing it.

 ahha ideal case which i will input into my kid’s brain starting from Primary 1 😀

Its actually scary thinking

Its actually scary thinking about what the future will be like for our kids. Especially if we are no longer here to guide them.

Maybe by that time, they will think we are all so OUTDATED and we just need to shut up and let them make their own career choices.

Which is why I am so concern about the basic love for learning. I just secretly hope that as long as I did my part now to nurture my kids’ love for reading and  acquisation of knowledge then I not so stressed out next time lor.

But to be totally honest, I am really building the foundation so that in future, we have great kids who will be useful and make their world a better place to live. Imagine if trees are really only planted indoors, if the world is like what you see in the movies – no natural sun, oxygen is supplied, they live among robots, animals are all cloned, food is no longer organic, their lives are monitored 24/7, etc.. THE FUTURE..

If our kids can have the power to change because of their abilities to think out of the boxand the information we are giving them now, then maybe their world will be a much better place  in FUTURE.

Just maybe they can travel back to the future only when they need to.. hahaha…


Loyalty to companies

If you look at the general trend, the world has moved from the celebration of individual excellence (eg. skilled artisans such as da Vinci, Michael Angelo) who can create great works of art all by themselves, to the massive corporations in Japan that used to profess to take care of their faceless workers for life, and now to outsourcing of non-core business functions to other companies that specialize on specific activities.  In a sense, we have come a full-cycle, where people are once again measured based on their individual value to the companies, which have become nothing more than shells that orchestrate their numerous resources to develop and market their products and services.  The only difference between us and da Vinci is that we are expected to master our skills in months rather than years.  Things are changing so rapidly that no company is impervious to the global economic forces, and their only means of survival is by accurately predicting consumer demand in the next 12 months and developing their products and services in time for it.  If they predict wrongly, or sit on their laurels, their competitors will wipe them out of existence.

To work under such scenarios, we need to do what we can to help our companies thrive.  But we have to be mindful that companies will only value us as long as we are useful in helping them grow.  The moment we stop being useful or adapt to changes, no company is prepared to keep us since we will reduce their agility and ability to survive in the global economy.

The future economy is likely such  that companies are just brands and project managers that keep a list of external providers that they can bring together to actually build the products/services.  In other words, "companies" are becoming smaller, and the smallest company is yourself.  If you think of yourself as a "company", and the organization that you are working for is just your "best client", then it becomes clear that true loyalty is only to yourself.  You may lose your client (eg. get retrenched, etc), but you will never lose your "company".  And the way to make yourself desirable to more "clients" is to learn to assimilate new skills that build upon your experiences that create the value that you can market to your "clients".  So buds is totally right.  We in the Information Age are doomed to a lifetime of learning.  Learning does not stop after Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary education.  If anything, the need for rapid learning actually increases the moment we step out of school.  That is why the graduation ceremonies are called "Commencement", and  not completion!

The learning journey never ends...

Chief, a bit profound to comprehend at first but when you reached the climax of the blog, i totally get it. Exploration opportunities (prompted by us or that comes naturally)  will create… will open their minds… to greater things out there. The learning journey is endless…. it never ends. I too am still learning everyday.


Peope change jobs for

Peope change jobs for various reasons. loyalty for the company/mentors who guide you and gave you opportunity is one thing. But some times, policiy changes, personnel changes, personal developement and interest and focal point change and one might not be the best person to continue to be in the same post in the company.

Agree that the key is to  teach kids skills to pick up new skills. i.e. skils about how to learn and interpret and use information they get. Easier said than done as you need constant practice, memorising and learning about core areas in language, maths and science or any other skill to gain the skill. Was just discussing with a collegues that many people with training in certain disciplines like engineering/broad base education produce people who could excel different careers that do not seems directly related to their training. A bit like pugilistic skills. You got to go through the process of learning the fundamentals before you can be a master who can win the fight in every situation.

If the company gave you

If the company gave you your first breakthrough and play a major role in your career advancement, shouldn’t part of loyalty come into play?

Agility can not be taught without the parents first being a role model – are we still learning and adapting at this age?

While it is commendable that we should try to expose our children to as many new skills as possible, and give them every opportunity to explore new areas by themselves, we should prevent from falling into the trap of hoping that our kids pick up skills that we fail to do so when we were young.


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