Learning skills are the core cognitive functionalities of human brain used to observe, collect, analyze, understand & implement the information we encounter throughout our life.
Humans start learning before birth and continue until death due to continuous interaction with the physical environment, person, situation, and thoughts.
The way of learning may be conscious or intuitive i.e. we may learn while being aware of what is going on and sometime we may learn without conscious reasoning.
People often think that they are not learning anymore after completing their formal education, but the fact is that we all are a perpetual student of the nature we live in.
If you really want to learn how to learn, start learning the learning skills described below; alternately you can read how to study effectively.
What is Learning?
Learning means acquiring new or modifying existing skills, values, knowledge, wisdom, and behaviors through our observation, analysis, understanding, and implementation.
Our subconscious mind is the permanent storage of all the information and skills we have acquired through learning. To retrieve and manipulate the information, our conscious mind or intuition plays the vital role.
Curiosity is the first step in learning, as a child, all human are curious to learn, explore and experience our surroundings and nature. The rate of learning might drop as we grow older day by day; researchers suggest that due to anxiety, stress, personal problems, professional turmoil, and hormonal changes inside our body; human learning tendency degrade over time.
What are the Learning Skills?
Learning skills are combination of 5Cs, and these 5C’s are critical thinking, creative thinking, cognitive skills, communication, and collaboration.
Apart from these, curiosity & concentration are the major factor for effective learning.
Here are the important learning skills you should have;
The Art of Concentration
Concentration means paying attention to a particular course of action or thought for a longer period of time.
You may realize that sometime you lost yourself in some subconscious or unwanted thought while studying.
Humans are prone to be distracted by subconscious thoughts such as anxiety, stress, depression; and unexpected external distractions such as the ringing of a mobile phone or surrounding noises.
You can regulate external distractions such as mobile phone, surrounding noises and other form of external distraction, but the intrinsic distraction i.e. subconscious or unwanted thought is one of the major reasons of people inability to concentrate.
So, what is intrinsic distraction?
Human has two types of memory; these are short-term memory & long-term memory. Long-term memory is used for storage and short-term memory is used for processing information or responding to external stimuli. Intrinsic distraction is a thought process or pattern of information revoked automatically from the long-term memory, and the when the pattern or thought is loaded into the short-term memory, we call it a distraction of anxiety, stress, pleasure or whatever it may be.
These internal distractions are like corrupted software program loaded into your Computer’s RAM; what happens when you click a virus program? In that same way, the internal distraction revokes from long-term memory; and to handle his you have to install an antivirus program inside your brain. And the antivirus program is when your attention wanders away, bring it back, practice it and make it a habit.
You can also read How to Concentrate on Studies
The Cognitive Skills
Cognitive skills are the core skills of human brain used to think, analyze, understand, remember, reason, read, and pay attention. This is one of the major skills for employability, learning, leadership, creative thinking, rational thinking and developing wisdom.
Cognitive Learning strategies can improve your hypothetical thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking, rational thinking and processing speed of your brain.
To be employable you have to start improving your cognitive abilities, employability in a job profile and a sector is defined by theoretical understanding and empirical validation of knowledge, cognitive skill, and domain expertise.
Gibson test of cognitive skill test is used to identify cognitive strengths and weakness of children and adults from age six and beyond. Cognitive skills are easier to develop during childhood; these skills are exercised to help the child learn how to evaluate, analyze, remember, compare, and solve problems.
The Art of Creative Thinking
Creative thinking can be due to structured pattern of thinking or unstructured pattern of thinking.
So what are the structured and unstructured pattern of thinking?
Structured pattern of thinking is when you direct yourself toward a particular course of action or thought and then all the related information comes to your mind consciously or intuitively.
Unstructured pattern of thinking is when you started thinking in response to particular extrinsic or intrinsic stimulation; and in this case also all related information comes to your mind consciously or intuitively. For example, when watch a horror movie, the unstructured thought of fear or suspense comes to your mind automatically.
The intuitive imagination and thought attribute most to the human creativity, while it may depend upon knowledge & wisdom a person already has. Here is one of the best quotes on intuition by Apple founder Steve Jobs,
‘Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect in my opinion.” – Steve Jobs
Providing the right information to your brain is the key to developing higher level creativity. If a person engages himself in negative and witless books, documents, videos or any kind of information; his creativity will be the reflection of the mental diet he has. Negative in-negative out, positive in-positive out; so, be conscious of what mental diet you have.
In the 21st century, most of the creative people are busy creating silly songs, books, blogs and that is becoming a status quo, do you know why? They are creative, they are intelligent, but our creativity is the reflection of mental diet we have.
The treads to develop creative thinking are Reading selectively, Providing balanced mental diet, Practicing imagination, Solving problems, Believing in yourself, Focusing on your hobbies, and commencing creative writing.
The Ability to Think Critically
Critical thinking is a self-directed, self-monitored, and self-disciplined thinking that generally includes rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis; and evaluation of factual evidence. Critical thinking is required for learning STEM, philosophy, arts, management, and in all the areas where judgment and analysis is required.
Cognitive skills development plays a vital role in develop critical thinking abilities; critical thinking abilities are argumentation, imagination, analysis, evaluation, problem-solving, and judgmental thinking of a particular action.
Critical thinking can be developed by playing puzzle games, solving problems, thinking rationally, visualizing big pictures of a topic, practicing strategic imagination, and practicing mindfulness
The ability to communicative effectively & efficiently is required no matter what you do; this is one of the soft skills every employer is looking for. Even students, self-employed person can’t work efficiently without communication skills.
Communication involves reading, writing, listening, and speaking; to be a good learner, you must develop these skills.
Be conscious while you listen to other, pay attention to when you read, and listen; practice these skills, and make this your habits.
Group discussion, team work, group study, community development and organizations are the inception of human collaborative skills.
Collaboration is premised on trust, sharing, belonging and respect. These skills are the specific way in which students are expected to behave, employees are expected to act, and leaders are expected to motivate.
Great collaboration needs effective communication, reliability, authenticity, team work, tolerance and compromise.
Learning is not the ability to remember; in the era of digital technology, we need a well-formed mind, the demand of well filled mind is no longer needed as we have the search engines to retrieve facts and figures.
The world is driven by wisdom, knowledge is just some data, facts to interpret and develop wisdom. Wise people have the ability to analyze and understand what they learned or what knowledge they already have. Here is one of the beautiful quote on wisdom
“Wisdom is the wealth of a poor.”
If you aspire to acquire wisdom, you need the analysis and understanding skills, but do you think analysis and understanding is enough?
You have to improve your cognitive abilities first if you really want to develop wisdom, the next step of developing wisdom is improving cognitive learning abilities. And then analysis or understanding will follow you whenever you encounter new or existing information and you will become a rationalist through your intuition i.e. your wisdom will transform itself into insights.
Ashim, the blogger of MindWiper, loves to learn, share, and educate on various dimensions of life skills development. After graduating with an engineering degree, he had worked with major ICT industries in India and currently working as an ICT Program Manager for the Government & as an Individual IT Consultant.