Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Exciting Ways To Learn Something New

Well, 2015 is officially here, and in keeping with tradition I came up with some new years resolutions. One of them is to try and learn something new, I would like to say “every day” but I think that would be a little out of reach for myself. I am just changing that to learn something new, as often as I can.

The majority of us have a great understanding of ourselves, our home life and our jobs as you would expect. Some of us also have hobbies that we like to do. But for a lot of us that is where our knowledge ends. It is so important, as we continue to age that we also let our knowledge grow and expand with us. This gives us a broader understanding of our fellow human beings and also our surroundings.

Many school leavers believe that this is the end of their learning path, but this cannot be further from the truth. As an adult, you pick up far more knowledge that in your formative years, although it can sometimes be harder to make it stick in your brain.


Imagine if you only knew one or two things in great depth, how would you draw a conclusion? Your perspective would be narrow and your arguments weak. We are lucky to live in a great time, where information flows relatively freely around the world, and looking at another culture or event is only a click away. Better still many institutions around the world even offer their knowledge for free. All we need to do it pick up our internet enabled devices or go to a library and expand our knowledge. Constantly learning and adapting is what gives our lives meaning.

Ok, so let’s start, there must be something that you would love to know more about? Cooking is a great one to get into, whatever your culinary tastes. There are a million and one sites out there with various views and recipes to make pretty much anything your heart desires. Better still why not go and talk to a relative or read old family cookbooks, you never know what you might find.

I don’t know about you, but I love photography. It is certainly one of my passions, and I would love to know more about the photography field, maybe this is something I will take on this year. There are plenty of courses and tutorials online for when you get your new camera to start with.

Spend lots of time reading, it doesn’t have to be War and Peace (although that would be great). Try just reading the daily paper, or an app of your daily paper. Absorb it all, make an opinion and expand your horizons. Subscribe to some RSS feeds of websites you would like to read and commit to checking out a few a day. Before you know it you will be improving yourself and may even one day attain the target of being well read.

Education doesn’t have to be hard work. Why not change channel over from your favourite soap opera and tune into something a little more educational? Most TV channels around the world have a dedicated twenty four hour news channel. Alternatively you can tune into specialist channels such as The Discovery channel, History or Animal Planet. Anything like this will be an improvement, and again you will be learning again and broadening your knowledge.

Travelling is another great way to gain knowledge. I would highly recommend going local when you travel abroad. Live as the locals do, travel and eat how and where they do and you will have a far more engrossing and exciting trip than if you follow the traditional tourist traps. Not to mention that you will probably also find some amazing places that are not in the tour guides.

Listen to people! If you get a chance to talk to a family member or a friend. Listen to what they have to say. Delve into whatever it is that they are doing at the moment, ask them about their pasts. One regret I have is not talking more about history with my grandparents before they passed away. Yes I had a great relationship with them, and I knew lots about them. But after they passed I soon realised I didn't know much about their histories and what defined them as people, sadly that time has now passed and I can’t go back.

Another great idea is to return to learning by way of night-school. This means that you do not have to give up your current employment, but it allows you to expand and broaden your knowledge. They usually offer a complete set of academic courses such as mathematics and English, but they also offer such things as tapestry and sewing. It doesn’t matter which courses you take as long as they are a stretch and take you out of your comfort zone.

If you do not have the time to check out local night school courses why not try the internet. So many courses exist online that will help you learn a new hobby or skill for free. However, as far as I know none will offer a real diploma at the end unless you go on a paid course. Some of the best resources are This is a great site that teaches you in a lesson based format how to create websites in HTML, code in PHP and many more computer languages. The courses are long and varied, but you can pick up or drop off whenever it suits you, and the learning is live so you can see as you type what you are creating.

Duolingo is another fantastic free site, it allows you to learn nine languages such as French, Italian and German and like Codecademy it is 100% free. With the simple addition of a microphone, you can even test your new language skills and see how you brush up. The learning is done in the same way we learn as children, by linking sounds and pictures together that helps the knowledge stick in our brains.

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