Learning and Keeping an Open Mind

Back before Christmas, I tweeted about the necessity of keeping an open mind in order to learn, it was part of the #PKMChat, but it got picked up by several people who weren’t part of the chat, which is nice, because it means that people were reading my tweets even though they weren’t part of the chat that I was participating in.

It got me thinking about why I tweeted that, and how important it really is, to keep an open mind, and not pre-judge something or someone.

I was delivering a series of training sessions for a client a couple of years ago, and I said to them, “imagine if that’s not true.”  I was trying to get them to think outside of the box, to imagine that whatever they had assumed was the answer wasn’t. What assumptions were they making, why did they think that something was true when it might not have been?

Some of them had a great deal of difficulty with this notion, that there wasn’t a right answer, that what they were sure was true wasn’t. No amount of challenges from me was going to change their minds.

It got me thinking, there are a lot of people like this in the world, I have been one myself in the past, and there are some days I probably still am this way, but I like to think that I am more open minded now. I have travelled more, talked to more people, had more life experiences, and learned that there are lots of different ways to approach the same challenge because I’ve seen it happen and experienced it personally.

How did this happen for me? Somewhere along the line, I ran out of “answers” and had to go looking, asking questions, recognizing assumptions that I was making, recognizing that things people had told me were true and necessary, were not. It was a hard realization to come to, but I’m better for it.

Keeping and open mind and questioning is key to learning, critical thought is key to learning: don’t just regurgitate what someone else has said. It’s hard and it takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end.

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