INTENTIONAL LEARNING
  • Investigating answers and building awareness without external prompting
  • Pushing forward to gain knowledge, understanding and experience
  • Enhancing our skills and expertise on purpose

COMMENTARY:
There is something inherently fun about learning.  At least for some people, fun is the inherent reaction to learning. An example is learning about new music. I call this "learning" because it takes action to seek out new tracks and to expand your taste profile. According to an article from the Business Insider*, "The peak age for discovering new music … was 24. This is when 75% of respondents said they listened to 10 or more new tracks a week, and 64% said they sought out five new artists per month". And then it stated, to me, a depressing sentence: "After this, though, it seems people's ability to keep up with music trends peters off…we stop listening to new music at age 30."  The article lays out more research, surveys and different analysis about this trend. It is a fascinating read if you have time.  
 
The problem I had with the article was I love music, and I am over 30. I distinctly remember a time in the not too distant past where I thought I'd never tire of seeking out new music.  And then something happened - I found myself only listening to a few genres and artists that I have always listened to. I started saying the one thing I promised myself I'd never say: they just don't make music like they used to. From that moment on, I made it a point to intentionally learn about new artists and genres.
 
Intentional Learning, as light-heartedly explained above, does not happen by accident. Even doing something enjoyable, like listening to new music, there comes a point where you have to purposefully seek out to learn. On a more different and urgent note, I believe the GuideMark of Intentional Learning can play a major role in the immigration and refugee situation in our country.  
 
Dear reader, before you get riled up, let me put a disclaimer that this is my personal conviction and I am not about to get political on you. We all share a common trait of being imperfect humans. Our nation is made up of imperfect people. With all that said, I believe if we seek to learn about people that are different than we are - if we strive to understand someone else's story - we will start chipping away at the root of many problems: fear.  
 
Fear is such a strong undercurrent to everything we hear in the news and social media that it's just poisoning any chance we have of learning and listening to someone different. Learning about someone new is hard in and of itself. Ask any grade school student on the first day of school. Learning about someone new when fear is thick… well I believe we are seeing examples of this every day.  
 
History has shown this is cyclical. There have always been immigrants and refugees and people who respond in hate and prejudice. Fear is nothing new. However, the cycle can only change at the individual/family level. We can choose to not respond in fear, but consciously learn about our neighbors who don't look or act like us. We can change the cycle of fear-based decision making. This isn't a myopic sentiment. We can change how we respond to new people groups by seeking out to know them on a personal level. I actually want to amend the last sentence: we can change how we respond to anyone by seeking to know them on a personal level. This includes people that are in the same people group, but a different zip code, pay bracket, etc.  

I made a disclaimer earlier that I wouldn't get political in this article. I won't, but I want to ask what would happen if more and more people started knowing their neighbors? What if everyone sat down for a meal with a refugee family and heard their story? What if we just tried to gain understanding by listening instead of yelling? It may change our politics. It may not. But it wouldn't hurt to try and try again.
 
It is beautiful when all kinds of people come together. Unfortunately, we see this in the news only when tragedy strikes. I saw a wonderful artistic example of bringing people together at the Mexico border wall seesaw installation**.  What I love about this is taking something that is a symbol of fear for a lot of people, but has been temporarily made into a symbol of unity through the act of play. I am all for whatever disarms fear, so people can approach one another and make steps to understand the other person's story.
 
I started this article with the topic of music, so it's only fitting I end it with a verse from a song that is from a genre I didn't listen to in my 20s:

I'm no dummy, here is something funny, you can be an immigrant without risking your lives
Or crossing these borders with thrifty supplies
All you got to do is see the world with new eyes 

- Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) by K'naan, Residente, Riz MC & Snow Tha Product

 
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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.

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GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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