In my first year at university I took a side unit called ‘Learning to Learn 101,’ essentially it was a course in introductory psychology, designed to teach the student a better understanding of themselves and their own personal and professional development. The aim of this course was to enable the individual to take a proactive, self-determining approach towards their studies, post-university employment and themselves generally. I thought of this recently and realized that it still relates to my current philosophical and religious studies.
Why do we need to learn to learn?
Students were encouraged to examine their own personalities and belief structures, those areas of the self of which we know, but are invisible to others, what we see in ourselves that others can also see, what we can see in others, but that they can’t see and what others see in us, but of which we have no conscious knowledge. By exposing the hidden areas of our own personalities we can deepen our understanding by identifying the optimum path to successful learning outcomes.
In terms of our own individual ability to learn, each of us possess positive and negative attributes. By making the unconscious conscious, we can shed some light on our otherwise unfulfilled abilities. We all come to learning from different perspectives, with in-built belief structures, social and cultural norms and subjective thought patterns. An objective understanding of psychology can allow us to maximise those areas of our personality most compatible with learning, whilst levelling out those aspects that may hinder us in this regard.
Who are we and why must we learn about ourselves?
A greater psychological understanding of our own personality type allows us to go beyond the ‘natural’ self, from aware to self-aware. For example, psychologists say that when people pass in a narrow space, men will usually pass face on, whilst women will tend to turn their back, supposedly indicative of our biological and evolutionary inheritance and the different attitudes towards the sensitive genital area. Yet, what happens when you know and you know you know? Cock or ass, D’oh?! Perhaps post psychological self-awareness could represent real choice, real freedom from our anthropological history and blind natural selection.
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It is also important, when it comes to taking ownership of our own development to remember our ideological make-up. This plays a major role in how we see ourselves, the world and our place in it. If we are unaware of our own prejudices, for instance, we are unable to notice and prevent the damaging effects those prejudices may have, then they can act as a block on future development.
As a child, my short-lived experience with the Jehovah Witness faith served to destroy any later belief I may have had in any other Church, likewise the army proved educational, affecting forever the closed mentality of normal working class life and capitalist consumerism, whist university served to increase my intellectual understanding and rescued me from the ‘common sense’, mundane, everyday view of reality. More recently Mike Hockney’s ‘The God Series’ and associated works have fundamentally challenged my atheistic and materialist dogmas. For effective personal development we have to go beyond ideologies, to post-ideology, or to put it another way, hyper-ideology. That which is self-aware and self-defining. For me, learning is a journey, a process and it doesn’t stop. When it comes to learning maybe the means are as important as the end.
Peter Boone writing for the Apollo Institute of Reason AIR Review©