Today, we have the highest number of “well educated” people, including an overwhelming number of people with Masters degrees and PhDs, who earn far less than they should based on their educational status. In fact, some statistics say that approximately 50 percent of those people with university degrees are not even using their degrees in a related field within five years of graduation.
As the owner of multiple businesses and a consultant to many other businesses and corporations, one of the most frequent comments I hear from upper level management and business owners is that there seems to be a severe shortage of common sense among the workforce today. Personally, I don’t feel there is a lack of common sense or intelligence. What I feel we do suffer from is an academic system that has become a vehicle for corporate programming rather than effective learning. When education is packaged with the intention of teaching people genuine problem solving skills, they quickly rise to their potential. This approach does not include programming to be “good employees” who don’t question the doctrine of the corporate world. Real education offers students a chance to become independent, rational thinkers, a chance to learn how to see and act on the need for improvement and a chance to achieve genuine results!
Many people find themselves trapped in a relentless search for more and more education. Sadly, few are better off for it. Why? Because they are only obtaining information, not KNOWLEDGE!
Information is not knowledge until it is applied and improves the efficiency or outcome in an environment specific to the intended application. I tell my students that information is not knowledge until it is changing someone’s life for the better! Information is like a refrigerator magnet that just sits there waiting for something to do. Knowledge only comes when you test the magnet to see just how many pieces of paper it will hold, if it will hold your car keys, if you can hang garlic from it, paper clips or all the above! When people take class after class and course after course, all they do is compile information. This is a paradox when you look at what the word “information” means. “Information” means, literally, in formation. When a group of soldiers is in formation, they are working together as a unit far more effectively than when they work as individuals. If you give soldiers more information than they can use, you have a bunch of men and women who are more likely to suffer from confusion and harm each other in the name of peace and progress.
Tips to Learn Effectively
Have an overarching purpose or a specific agenda for your studies.
The world today is so full of information and so immediately accessible via the Internet and other electronic media that if you don’t focus your educational endeavor, you will literally drown in information. You will fall out of formation! The larger the overarching purpose, the more specific you must be. For example, if your goal is to learn about auto mechanics, you will need to be much more specific as to what information you need considering that an automobile is a system of systems. Do you want to learn about the electronics, hydraulics, fuel delivery, internal combustion, suspension or body work? Each system within the car can be very complicated, so you must apply the same tactic to that particular system. What exactly do I want to learn NOW? If you want to repair your brakes and you have disc brakes, you may first need to learn the basics of hydraulic systems repair and then study specific application to your kind of brakes.
Determine the need for theoretical versus practical knowledge.
Today, a massive amount of information is theory based. Theory based information is typically used to explain something that has yet to be explained or proven in the Newtonian sense of the word. Theories are commonly sought after when someone finds that a given method of doing something works, but they don’t understand how. For example, we still don’t know exactly how electrons come to be, nor do we know how Aspirin really works, so we generate theories (and spend a lot of time arguing about them). If you want to fix the brakes on your car and you don’t know how to teach yourself, you can easily spend weeks or months reading articles on hydraulics/braking theory and still be clueless as to how to actually resurface a hydraulic cylinder! Practical knowledge is knowledge of how to practice something. If you want to fix your brakes, you need information that gives you the practice or practical steps to brake repair. The key point is that while we may disagree on the theory of how a car stops, your car won’t stop safely until you get the right (practical) information. Then, you must choose to study and use only the information you can keep in formation (i.e., that you, at your skill, level can use)!
Choose the appropriate learning style for YOU!
Some 95 percent of education imparted in academic systems worldwide is in what is called the mathematical-logical format. What makes this so amazing is the fact that only five to eight percent of people learn effectively that way. In general, people fall into one of the following basic learning styles (ordered from most to least common):
- Visual dominant learners (like to watch the instruction first)
- Auditory dominant learners (like to hear the instructions first)
- Kinesthetic dominant learners (need to feel the instruction, usually by doing it with guidance from the teacher)
- Mathematical-logical learners (prefer to read books)
It is a sad fact that one can be given the exact information they need to accomplish an objective, such as fixing their brakes, yet if the information is packaged in a format that doesn’t suit their unique learning style, they become the proverbial deer in the headlights! They nod their heads at the instructor and say “uh huh, yep,” and then sit and stare at the pile of parts before them, only to eventually give up or find that their car still doesn’t stop! Because many academic institutions are businesses, volume is the key to profits. That fact drives the institutions to accept large groups of students and funnel them through the mathematical-logical approach because books are very easy to package and they last a very long time. This often results in what is referred to as both doctrine and dogma. In more elite learning systems, students are given individual attention and the instructor queries their students to identify how to best teach them.
Gathering more information than you can hold in formation generally decreases efficiency and performance in any environment requiring practical application. Defining and learning in your dominant learning style dramatically improves retention of information so that you can apply it and convert it into knowledge!