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Becoming a Learner - Page 1
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Page 1: Why become a Learner?

Probably the first answer ought to be the counter-question, ‘why not?’ Yes, why not become a learner? Our assumption in bringing these pages to you is that anyone and everyone is or can become a learner. But, if you have read the Introduction page, you are here because you’re not so sure about that!  

If you have a degree – go away!  Well perhaps not, perhaps you just did your spell of late teenage learning that got you into Uni and then you got through the three years, which presupposes you’re a learner.... but I wonder?  Have you got stuck in a rut and need a nudge to start thinking again? But our focus is specifically those who struggle with the thought of learning.

Another approach to our title question might be to check out people who clearly aren’t learners, to see if we identify with any of them, and then think about how to change!  The following people are all imaginary and as they say in books, any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental.
-   Al, is twenty three, unemployed, had a rough time at school and thinks she is rubbish. Life goes on boringly, day by day, with occasional visits to the job shop, sporadic interviews that lead nowhere, occasional clubbing or evenings of boring TV.  Al doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t think too much about life and isn’t going anywhere.
-   Brooke likes fashion, reading magazines about celebrities, dropped out of school the moment he got to sixteen, works at a cash-till and has no aspirations and believes nothing can change. He is now twenty five.
-   Charlie hangs around with friends, dropped out of school, got pregnant, leaves her two year old with her Mum to look after and feels that life sucks!
Part 1: The Right Frame of Mind
Now, what are the common features of these three?  Well, probably there are a number of things, but in particular, they have each taken on board the lie that learning and education aren’t for them – and they are going nowhere. In their fifties and sixties they will probably be grumpy old people in dead-end lives, have nothing good to look back on, and will still not be feeling good about themselves.

So are you saying that education and learning are essential to make money? Two things: can we first separate ‘education’ and ‘learning’?  I’ll tell you why in a minute. Second, there are a lot of people who started out with little or no education and now have big incomes and big homes. Let’s have a few examples:
-  Here’s Darci. Came out of school with poor exam results, went into a firm collecting up cuttings of material, left-overs of the main product. Gradually over the years slowly worked his way up the ladder and is now a director of the firm and drives a posh car.  

-  Then there’s Drew. Again, didn’t do well at school and got a job as a dinner lady at a small, local primary school. Used to go occasional clubbing and was there picked out by a fashion scout. Drew now earns a fortune walking the catwalks and you now know her by another name.  

-  Oh yes, and here’s Dec, and he won the lottery and so has money to burn, but there aren’t many like him around, so let’s rule out hopeless odds and work on something that is much more likely to help us.
So yes, you can make a pile and have no education.

But I said just now that I want to separate off ‘learning’ from ‘education’ and I want to do that because you probably associate education with institutional learning – schools, colleges and universities.  ‘Learning’ is much bigger than that!

Listen to this advice given to some parents by one particular educator:
“Close your eyes and imagine what you might hope to see in a 16 or 18-year-old school leaver. Better still, imagine we are talking about your own child. You would want them to be self-confident and to know their own mind, wise enough to avoid making foolish decisions. You would want them to have a clear idea of their futures..... A clear sense of purpose about the future and a real sense of optimism would be fundamental.... A good character, capable of telling right from wrong, with a commitment to building a better society, would be highly desirable, as would good manners. You might well want their various talents — artistic, musical, sporting, social and personal — to have been identified and nurtured.”

Now this educator didn’t mention a single “school subject” but he did mention a whole lot of other things that require ‘learning’:
-  Self-confidence
-  Able to make wise decisions
-  Sense of purpose for the future
-  Good character, able to tell right from wrong
-  Good manners
-  Natural talents

So let’s get away from the idea of school and let’s suggest that YOU have the capability of becoming a ‘learner’. Being a learner is all about attitude. It isn’t even about setting goals that end up with certificates or jobs or who knows what. No, the ‘learning’ that we are talking about here, is about the attitude we invite you to develop as you work your way though these pages.

All you need to do, to start with at least, is to read these pages and think about what you find here. THEN you decide about what you might want to do about it. Happy reading!

PS. Yes, I know we haven’t given you loads of reasons to become a learner – but we have given you some and you’re now interested. That’s enough. Read on!

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On to Page 2 - “Setting yourself free to become a Learner”