Reading is a primary way that we take in information so your journey will include reading of all types. This site and others are great sources of information, as are books (print and digital), magazines, workbooks, newspapers, blogs, etcetera. Reading can be powerful in many ways because it can provide us with useful information, insight and other things that can lead to our personal “a-ha moments.” However, we have to be careful that we are not passive readers. Reading can open a portal to transformation but it requires some action on our part to step through that portal. This action can range from doing an activity the author recommends (as opposed to skipping over it) or interacting with the pages by highlighting section and writing in the margins (as a way to improve our understanding and retention) to pausing in order to reflect on something you read by meditating on it or journaling about it.
How many of us have read something profound but then not taken action on it in our day-to-day life? Or bought a workbook but did not do the exercises and activities? This is what I mean by passive reading. Reading is only as powerful as the changes it creates in your real behavior. So read with gusto but be sure to pace your reading in a way that allows for both contemplation and action. You will find that Soul School is filled with lots of recommendations for things to read and do that are related to the Wheel of Wellbeing and the Wellness Toolbox. Take the time to explore them. Also know that I value your recommendations so feel free to email me with a juicy find of your own!
Humans are designed to learn. Our brains are built to take in information through the various senses and make sense out of it over time. We are biologically wired to process information in our environment and build neural pathways as we do so. One great tool for your growth and transformation is your innate ability to learn. Some people believe that people cannot change, but this absolutely not true. We are wired to grow and change throughout our lifetime, and it’s why I am so confident that you can transform any pattern or experience that you desire. The brain can, at any time, form new neural pathways. But what happens is that adults often settle into routines where they do not appropriately challenge the brain and psyche to grow, so can stagnate to the point of feeling stuck. The good news is that we can access our ability to grow and change at any time, by being willing to learn again.
Learning occurs in both organic ways (through personal experience) and structured ways (through education). Organic learning is what we learn through being in the world and interacting with it. I like to envision our hunter-gatherer past and how we learned to survive. Through experience, we learned that fire was hot and could burn but could also render meat more edible. We learned that seasons changed every few months and that these changes were predictable. We learned that certain plants could help heal wounds or make us sick. Over time, we wanted to pass along this organic experiential learning to the next generation so began to structure that learning into lessons, also known as education. These lessons used to occur within families but as we lived in larger and larger communities, we created communal learning experiences, which evolved into schools.
The Purpose of Schooling
The purpose of school has not changed much over the years – it’s essentially a tool for socializing the next generation to the information, norms and values of a group. However the content of that socialization has changed – we used to teach children about nature, growing cycles, and how to grow and process food. Once we industrialized our food supply, that content was replaced by other content, like typing and computer skills. There are many fascinating books on the history of education (see below) and if you are a parent or work in education, I highly recommend that you read them.
Over time, the education process became less and less based on experiential learning because it was not cost- or time- efficient. So our schools gradually moved to a system of transmitting information through words, concepts and ideas. This shifted education to take place primarily through written and spoken word, both as a way to receive knowledge and to convey it. Think about it – students now read books, listen to lectures, and then write their learning through papers and exams or through oral presentations. Math and science utilize the same process but have an added language of formulas.
If you are an adult, you have experienced many years of education or schooling, which may or may not have supported your learning. Education is one of the primary socializing agents of children, along with family, the media, peers and community. So you cannot have reached adulthood without being shaped by your schooling. For some, school was a place that worked for them – they understood the rules, were able to perform and excel, and gained a positive view of themselves and their abilities over time. For the majority of others, their education has been an experience that made them feel bad about themselves, their intelligence and their abilities. These students often didn’t fit well within the narrowly prescribed school structure and its focus on linguistic and math knowledge. This is why some people perceive themselves as “not smart” or who “don’t like to learn.” What they really mean is that school didn’t match the way they learned.
Did you know that there are actually different kinds of intelligence? Research has proven that humans actually can excel in 9 different types of knowing or skill and yet school only focuses on two of those types, verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical. For kids who are strong in those 2 types, school is a positive experience. Furthermore, all of the tests for college entrance are focused on those two intelligences, making the traditional path to success in the US — a college degree — something that is really biased to benefit a small portion of the population.
In my years of working in education, I have come to see the damage that school has done to people. People can lose their sense of self-esteem and confidence in their abilities from just a couple of bad experiences in their younger years. If that resonates for you, I hope you will spend time healing from the lies that were perpetuated on you. One way to do that is to explore which of the many intelligences at which you excel.
The Nine Intelligences
Howard Gardner wrote a groundbreaking book detailing all of the research on the multiples intelligences, which are:
- Linguistic/verbal intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to communicate with others.
- Logical/mathematical intelligence involves the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically.
- Musical/rhythmic intelligence entails skill in the performance, composition, and/or appreciation of musical patterns.
- Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body (like the hand or the mouth) to solve problems or make objects.
- Visual/spatial intelligence features the potential to recognize and manipulate the patterns of space in your mind. This can be with open space, like that used by navigators and pilots, as well as the patterns of more confined areas such as those used by sculptors, surgeons, chess players, artists, or architects.
- Naturalist intelligence focuses on a person’s ability to understand and work with elements from the natural world including animals, plants, minerals, or natural spaces.
- Existential intelligence is the ability to explore and ponder deep questions about spiritual matters such as human existence, sanctity of life, and the permanence of death.
- Interpersonal intelligence denotes a person’s capacity to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people and, consequently, to work effectively with others.
- Intrapersonal intelligence involves the capacity to understand oneself, to have an effective working model of oneself—including one’s own desires, fears, capacities—and to use such information effectively in regulating one’s own life.
Daniel Goleman further developed the ideas of inter- and intra-personal intelligence into a concept he coined as “emotional intelligence.”
- Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner
- Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
- The Flat World and Education by Linda Darling-Hammond
- In Defense of Our Children by Elaine Garan
- Wheel of Wellbeing workshops and video lessons by Britt Andreatta
- Khan Academy for academic skills in math, science, statistics, economics, and more. These videos will help you overcome any fear you have of certain subjects plus he is doing amazing work with improving our schools!
- Lynda.com for software and technique training in a variety of areas including social media, video, business, photography, web design, graphic design, and more. I learned how to do this wordpress site at Lynda.com. Fantastic service that everyone should utilize! For link, click on icon below.