• Investigating answers and building awareness without external prompting

  • Pushing forward to gain knowledge, understanding and experience

  • Enhancing our skills and expertise on purpose


One of the first GuideMarks identified at FFL was Intentional Learning. We observed that people kept going and finding out answers themselves, instead of waiting to learn. On their own, without being asked, people were researching information, checking out the facts, and digging deeper into topics.

What is intentional learning?

When I am intentional, there is thought and purpose behind my words and actions. In fact, the word intentional can be defined simply as this: done deliberately. Intentional learning is a commitment to lifelong learning that is self-motivated. A certain amount of learning will always take place on its own, however, intentional learning involves a deliberate search for answers, knowledge and understanding.

Can everyone do it?

Someone might say “if intentional learning is, by definition, self-motivated, how can you expect someone to do it? If you tell them to be self-motivated, aren’t they just following instructions? That isn’t really self-motivation.” Correct, Mr. Strawman! No one can extrinsically motivate intrinsic desires. (Don’t statements like that make you feel smart?) However, intrinsic desires can be encouraged, promoted and developed by extrinsic means. In fact, the whole purpose of the GuideMarks is to use external support to encourage internal values and desires. Therefore, even though intentional learning is something that has to come from within, it certainly can be fostered.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to build-up your intentional learning trait is to practice it. Here are a few practical ideas for how you might go about doing that.

  • Intercept the next question that you are about to ask someone, and take a few minutes to try and answer it yourself. CAUTION: Don’t take all day doing this and don’t assume you got the answer right. Invest a little time, and then ask someone else the question, but give them what you think the answer is when you ask them the question.
  • Arrange a time to learn from someone who knows more than you do about a topic. Schedule this time at their convenience. For example, I love to teach people about Microsoft Excel. I have NEVER, EVER skipped the opportunity to schedule some time to teach someone at FFL more about Excel.

Intentional learners don’t just wait for someone to give them the answer – and they don’t blindly take the answers given to them. Intentional learning requires breaking through barriers and pushing ourselves both mentally and physically.

At FFL, we go out of our way to learn. In doing so, we have a positive influence on the schools and communities we represent, and we better our own lives and the lives of those around us.

Key Words and Phrases

Strive for understanding; Gather knowledge; Seek wisdom; Build awareness; Discover information; Gain expertise; Become skilled; Find answers.

Opposite Terms

Muddle; Disarray; Hit-or-miss; Indolent.


Copyright © 2017 Funds For Learning, LLC. About the Funds For Learning GuideMarks.

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