Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Learning to learn

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I don't know who "they" are, and maybe you can't, but I would like to think even old dogs can CHOOSE to learn again.

My grandchildren asked me to teach them how to play badminton the other day. At ages 3, 4, and 6 I felt it sufficient to simply help them hit the "birdie." Playing an actual game may come later.

The younger two were quickly distracted into some other mischief after a few failed flails. The 6-year-old, though, was a different story. She has been through kindergarten, she's participated in soccer, baseball, and swimming lessons. Her approach to life has changed and is changing because she has developed the capacity to understand she is CAPABLE of learning. She has 'learned to learn.'

It was neat to watch her delve into the world of racquet and shuttlecock with the determination of a fat man at a buffet. She swung and swatted, and if her language skills were greater, I'm sure she would have swore too. Her mind was fixated on: SHE WAS GOING TO FIGURE THIS OUT! She knew she could.

You could literally see the wheels turning as she made adjustments on the fly and finally... she was able to "play badminton" (in her mind). After hitting the birdie five times in a row she proudly beamed, "I am pretty good at this!" Ah... growing up. :)

I don't know exactly what it is that makes us want to stop learning. Whether it comes with age, disappointment, or perhaps it's the circle of life that shrinks us back into easy distractions. Seeing my granddaughter mature as she learns she can learn - that is exciting to see; and inspiring. It may even be contagious.

The reality is... I can still learn too! I may be old, but I now know it's not about the person trying to teach me; it's up to ME to decide if I want to learn or not.

So today I am putting my mind to a more determined curiosity and attitude of learning similar to that of my granddaughter. I will leave badminton to the youngsters, but there is a ton more this old dog can learn about life and living; and I want to. How about you???