As I pass groups of school kids on my way to work each day, I wonder: what would it take for grown-ups to feel what those guys must feel? What can I do to make the most out of my learning potential, not just while I’m learning formally, but also while learning later in life? Here are some simple hacks to turn you into a student again.
1. Sign up for a college course. There is a good reason why Open University advertises its courses now: people may have failed to enter their university of choice. But along the way, they pick up folks who have always wanted to learn again. You can! It takes a long time, and you have to budget for it – but this definitely an investment I’d recommend.
2. Sign up for a MOOC. I took two or three classes on Coursera so far, and I enjoyed the sense of achievement and camaraderie they brought me. There is not so much time commitment, although you still have to be aware of the workload – and it can all be free if you’re not after the recognized (paid) certificate.
3. Go back to an actual school. There are probably some colleges or private institutions around you, happy to teach you something new. What are you keen on learning this year?
4. Get back to the library. Here’s a secret everyone should know: library books are worth about twelve times more than any MBA you can buy, and librarians are more valuable than all Harvard professors put together. Go, ask questions, get the books, read, learn, repeat.
5. Join a book club. I am so happy to be able to do this again – my job is no longer on the road. So this means I can plan the book clubs in advance, read something interesting and then chat about it. Lovely!
6. Help a school kid. These could be your own, or your neighbours’, or community kids – maybe you can help out with homework? This will make you feel like you’re helping knowledge happen (which will be 100% true and 513% worth it)
7. Create your own podcast course. This is something worth doing if you keep finding idle time in your schedule regularly. Downloading a list of podcasts which can teach you something new will feel like planning your own syllabus – and then you can just go through them during your commute or waiting times. I know what I’ll be doing for all my flights soon…
8. Volunteer to teach. This is related to idea number 6 above, but a bit more challenging. Many communities could benefit from volunteer teachers or teaching assistants. And the difference you can make can be amazing. This one takes some courage and effort, but you’ll be a hero in my eyes if you do this.
9. Get a new, clean notebook. This is something my friend commented on recently. A small change – it costs you 50 pence, at most – but it makes you feel like a new beginning is possible. Not to mention the fact that it beckons you to write more!
10. Take fitness classes. All the ideas above were mainly connected with learning stuff, and feeling brainy. But there is also a lot to be said about how good it feels to get fitter, too. A new sequence learned at yoga, or a new pilates exercise – they make you actually feel the learning in your guts. Sometimes it’s much more “real” than the book learning thing!
What are your tips for getting back to school, everyone?
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