2006 was a year of new beginnings and new learning opportunities for my family. On December 13, 2005, we welcomed our baby girl into the world and began to learn about the joys and challenges of parenting (our two four-legged furry kids didn’t prepare us enough). Five months later, we relocated to a different state, my husband started a new job, I left mine and embarked on the balancing act of caring for my daughter and working to launch my own business. I picked up blogging along the way, which turned out to be a nice outlet for the frenzy of thoughts and ideas in my head. My blog is about learning, and who is a faster and better learner than a baby? She has taught me a few things about this subject, and I am happy to share our lessons from the crib.
"Practice" is the name of the game. We’ve all heard: “Practice makes perfect.” Babies are wise, they somehow know it from the day they are born. My daughter started with practicing her communication skills and making her intent loud and clear, a bit too loud for my ears. With each new skill she learned, she exhibited the same effortless persistence, indicating that failure was not an option. Such attitude encourages learning. George Leonard in his book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment writes about the value of practice: “Mastery is staying on the path.” Next time you need to learn a new discipline or a set of skills, remember this and rest assured that you already possess everything you need to succeed.
Learning is a laughing matter. At which juncture on our way to adulthood did learning become serious and boring? That’s certainly not the way my baby views it. Learning is a fun and joyful activity for her. She learns through play. It turns out that positive emotions improve adult learning as well. A good learning game that makes participants engaged and relaxed can accelerate learning. It’s good to be a kid once in a while.
There is more ways to learn than through words. Babies learn through observation, touch, smell, taste, interaction. My daughter loves music and dances every time she hears her favorite songs. She is learning coordination and rhythm. Adults also relate to information in multiple ways according to Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University who wrote the book Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century. Every day, I am reminded that multisensory learning is the best.
Curiosity drives learning. I am amazed at how curious and observant my baby is. I can read it in her face. “Where did the noise come from?” “What happens if I push this cup over the edge of the table?” “What does this stuff taste like?” I think adults are often too busy to be curious. When was the last time you put “oblige my sense of curiosity” in your to-do list? Maybe, we should give in to our curiosity more often even if it means that an hour disappears in pursuit of a random thought. William Wirtonce said; “Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance.”
“Do, or do not. There is no try,” said Jedi Master Yoda in Star Wars. This lesson is about the mindset. Babies don’t try to do things, they do them. Even when it appears to me that my daughter is trying to walk, in her mind, she is walking. She is not thinking: “I am going to try to put that leg forward and see what happens.” She just does it. What happens if we eliminate “try” from our vocabulary and just do things to our best ability? Some good learning experience.
Falls and bumps are just that: falls and bumps. They don’t mean we are failures. They are not evidence of a faulty character. They are part of life. Just get up and keep going, like babies do.
Learning needs support. There are times when my baby wants me to hold her and comfort her. She needs my support, and she knows I am there for her. It gives her confidence and a sense of security. While our adult education system encourages competition, I think, we can all benefit from cooperative and supportive environment when we learn.
When you don’t quite understand something, smile. My baby must think I am silly. She rewards me with her smile more often than I deserve it. Her smile is hard to resist. I believe, a sincere smile is the first step to true understanding: “I am not sure what you are saying, but I like you.” Thanks to my baby, I smile more these days.
Have you done all of your gift shopping yet? If not, here’s an idea. In the spirit of this blog, I encourage you to give the gifts of learning. After all, what is a better way to spend your money than on the improvement of Self and others. The other day, I engaged in some daydreaming with Excitations – a website that offers gifts of experiences. You can browse those gifts by types of activities and geographical regions where they are available.
What would your gift recipients like to learn about? Maybe, they would be interested in a Wine Education Experiencein San Francisco. If you have friends in Philadelphia who are in the process of renovating their home, they may enjoy a Guided Design Center Experience. You can also send your competitors to Swim with the Sharks. It’s fun just to browse through all those experiences. Maybe, you can put one or two on your own wishlist.
How do your gift recipients prefer to learn? Some may want to take the Best Seat in the House: Wine and Dine and see a celebrated chef prepare a five-course meal just for them. They will learn about pairing food and wine in the process, and the best part is that they get to enjoy the delicious dinner. Do you know anybody who would want to tour Washington DC by Segway for Two? A knowledgeable guide will help them to cruise along effortlessly.
Where would they want to have that extraordinary experience? How about in the sky where they can try skydiving? For the earth-bound, offer a Half Day Spa Rejuvenation. Who wouldn’t want to get some rest from all these holidays?
Perhaps, there is somebody out there who is an inspiration to your friends and whom they would like to meet as part of their gift experience. Music lovers would like a Symphony Salonseries where they can have a pre-concert chat with the musicians and creative directors of the critically acclaimed Riverside Symphony, attend a complimentary cheese-and-wine reception and enjoy the performance at Lincoln Center in New York City. The lucky ones may get a chance to go interior home shopping in NYC with Designer Libby Langdon(you have to be some lawyer with money to give this experience).
When? Any time, not just the holidays.
P.S. Do you feel creative and want to design your own wrapping paper? You can do it for free.
Legal Andrewtagged me for the meme that is going around the blogosphere. Now it’s my turn to reveal 5 things that you may not know about me.
I love learning foreign languages. I speak English, Russian, Spanish, and I am successfully forgetting French and Italian. What it means is that I need to visit France and Italy soon.
I met my dear husband through Latin ballroom dancing. I also met a bunch of great people in dancing classes, many are still my friends. If you want to grow your social circle, I highly recommend Latin ballroom dancing. Dancing was also my distraction form law school, and I credit it for preserving my sanity and a decent physical shape during those three years.
I taught English as a Second Language courses at the university all the way through law school.
I remember one of my best friends for as long as I remember myself. We were kids when we met. We ended up studying linguistics at the same university and went on the same foreign exchange program just a year apart from each other. She works in publishing. I guess, I am in self-publishing, if blogging counts.
For a few years, I worked right next to the Niagara Falls. In the summer time, I would take my lunch, go to the park, find a bench and listen to the water roaring next to me as I munched on my sandwich. In the winter, it was cold, so I went there just a few times, but the view was incredible. The clinging mist turned the banks of the river and falls into glaciers, and with the sun reflecting from the snow and ice, the landscape looked like another planet. Not many tourists get to see this transformation. I think any hurried lawyer would enjoy working next to the Niagara Falls: seeing this abundance of water go by puts everything into perspective. Visit the Falls if you have a chance.
Now, if you have not been tagged yet and you are reading this post, I tag you. Jump in!
·Cooking food is all about experimenting with different flavors, textures, aromas.It appeals to various senses.So should learning.Our brain enjoys multisensory learning experiences.
·I cook primarily to have something to eat, but also to relax, and occasionally, to entertain and socialize, if I cook with a group of friends, for example.In most cases I reap the benefits then and there.Learning, like cooking, needs motivation.Make sure you formulate your goals and the benefits of reaching them before you start doing any kind of learning.Make them personal and meaningful, and as relevant to real life as you can.
·Balancing the flavors is one of the most challenging elements of cooking.Balancing all of the reading, briefing, outlining, moot court, law journal, and other law school activities is often the most difficult aspect of law school, but it is crucial for success.
·When you cook, choose the top-quality ingredients to get the best flavors.Same goes for learning.Be selective when you choose your resources and study aids.More does not equal better.
·Reduce, reduce, reduce. Outline, outline, outline.Reducing the liquid intensifies the flavor.Outlining intensifies the learning.
·Marinating meat or vegetables overnight is an easy way to ensure an abundance of flavor in your dish.When you learn something new, let it “marinate” for a few days and then review the material.It will boost your memory.
·You can improvise quite a bit in cooking, however baking requires precise measurement of ingredients.Make sure you know which legal concepts have precise meaning and which allow for a reasonable point of controversy.
·I like new gadgets and I watch for new trends in both cooking and learning to taste and share.