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Becoming a Learner - Page 6
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Page 6: Choosing what to learn

This could become a page of lists so let’s start it off with a light hearted quotation. This is someone who is obviously a brilliant ‘learner’ and note that she does it by reading:
Part 1: The Right Frame of Mind
“Years ago, I was inexplicably given charge of my school house junior netball team. I have had a lifelong zero interest in sports and absolutely no knowledge of how, or even why, they func­tion. Aged eighteen, I led a group of intensely keen eleven-year-olds whose house had never won anything. They were a motley, mainly bespectacled crew in ill-fitting navy games uniforms, but they had hope in their hearts and I knew I couldn't let them down.
In the library I found a book entitled ‘Netball — Know the Game’, and my crew and I resolutely went through it, chapter by chapter. The eleven-year-olds learnt the basics, I mastered shout­ing certain key phrases from the side, such as 'mark up' and 'go wide' with no real knowledge of when would be an appropriate time, and the rest of the story is frankly cup-carrying triumph.
Since then, I have been confident that anything can be learnt from a book. The Reader's Digest Plumbing and Heating Manual has changed my life. After just a few sessions with my printed mentor, I found myself waking up thinking I must pop to the shops for some jubilee clips, an olive and a 15 mm push-fit connector valve.
Misspending my youth in libraries means that I know that NASA once experimented with tilapia, a sewage-eating fish also called the 'toilet trout'. There was a notion that the fish could live in a space station swimming in waste water and eating the product before finally being eaten themselves. This year, some­one gave me a Delia cookbook.  
The first recipe I came to?  Oven-roasted Tilapia with Mango and Pawpaw Salsa. I just can't bring myself to cook it, but maybe as an unusual sideline in my plumbing work ...
(Source: Sandi Toksvig in The Chain of Curiosity)
So her learning (seen from this passage at least) included Netball, the ways of NASA, plumbing, and cooking. So let’s lay out a menu of things you might or might not know about – and most of these can be picked up on the Internet – and they start from very simple and short learning things, to those things that might take months or longer! This is an ‘off-the-top-of-the-head list so it’s not meant to be complete; it’s just some vague ideas to start you off. Many things you’ll laugh at or look down at – but do you know how to do them – opportunities to learn!

1. Things around the home
 How to lay up a table
 What cutlery to use at a big meal
 How to clean shoes
 How to adjust kitchen cupboard doors
 How to mend cracked plaster
 What to do with burns
 What to do with a fire on a gas hob
 How to light a coal fire
 How to clean windows
 What polishes to use on different materials
 How to change a fuse

2. People things
 How to greet people formally
 What it means to be polite
 How to write a CV to apply for a job
 How to prepare for an interview
 Do’s and don’ts of ‘polite’ conversation
 What to wear on special occasions
    (These are all things that will build confidence in you)

3. Simple Skills
 How to use a washing machine or tumble drier, at home or in shop
 Basic sewing skills
 Ability to read timetables, read and fill in forms
 Handling a bank account,  handling your personal budget to avoid debt
 Safe use of knives, scissors, chisels, saws.
 Safe use of electricity
 Handling broken glass
 Using or cleaning up bleach safely
 Basic food hygiene & basic cooking skills
 Knowing how to return faulty goods to a shop

4. More long-term learning
 Learning a foreign language
 Brushing up on your understanding of your own language and its usage
 Brushing up on your maths
 Brushing up on other ‘school’ subjects you wish you knew more about – geography, history, etc.
 Learning basic accounts
 Learning wider computer skills
 Learning practical skills – carpentry, painting, plastering, plumbing, furniture repair
 Learning recreational skills – painting, quilling, sculpting, crochet, patchwork, quilting
 Take up gardening, or photography.
 Learn to write short stories etc. etc.
5. General Knowledge that helps understand modern life
 Learning about local government
 Learning how central government works
 Learning how the national health works
 Learning how your local library works .

As we have said above, these are just a variety of “off-the-top-of-the-head” ideas and you could multiply this list fifty-fold. To extend your thinking capacity for each one ask yourself where you would find this information. The Internet may be your starting place.