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From Jim’s heart for teens…Becoming a Learner for Life

My wife once told me of the words on the tombstone of a well-known scientist: “He Died Learning.” Those three words made a great impression on me. Since then, I have tried to follow this man’s example. And I hope this will become your motto as well. Unfortunately, there are teens whose motto is “I would rather die than learn.” They dislike school and can’t wait for graduation so they can get on with “real life.” And they go through the motions, exerting only the minimum effort necessary to get by. Sadly, when tomorrow arrives, they will wake up and discover that they have very limited career options because they didn’t develop the skills or acquire the disciplines that were needed for the challenges of the future.

Now maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, I get it. But I’m not a very good student. I try, but I never seem to do very well.” Well, friend, there is hope. You need to realize there are two kinds of learning — formal and informal. Formal learning takes place with the help of textbooks and, in most cases, within the four walls of a classroom. You don’t have much choice about this type of learning. It’s what the school system dictates (or, if you are home-schooled, it’s what your parents expect). But even if you struggle, it is still necessary for you to try your best because formal learning is what gives you the foundation and discipline for all the learning that you can choose to gain outside the classroom.

Then, there’s the informal learning! This type of learning has to do with your personal desires and dreams. Informal learning provides you with limitless choices you can make every day. It’s an ongoing activity that will last your entire lifetime.

When I worked at a pharmacy as a teenager, informally I learned about medicine, medications, chemistry, and retail sales. The pharmacist was a willing teacher, and I was a willing student. That informal learning shaped my future for many years to come. But it was my formal learning that made it possible for me to pursue the informal learning. So don’t panic when someone says you need to get an education. There are lots of ways to learn, as you can see below:

  • Learning is an attitude — it involves heart and head.
  • Learning is progressive — it builds upon itself.
  • Learning is not dependent on your IQ — it depends on your desire.
  • Learning has no boundaries or limits — except those you place on yourself.
  • Learning does not require social status or money — it’s free to anyone with a desire to expand his or her knowledge.
  • Learning has its own rewards — its prizes are unlimited.
  • Learning has an ultimate priority — to know more about Jesus Christ and how to live His way (2 Peter 3:18).

Question: Guys, what is your favorite subject in school? What topics naturally spark your curiosity and desire to learn? Parents, share an example of how learning helped you earlier in life.

Read From Jim’s heart for teens…Becoming a Learner for Life on Elizabeth & Jim George.


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