Saturday, December 27, 2008

Develop A Habit: A Learning Mindset

According to Howard Gardner, this is an obsolete idea:

Life can be divided into distinct periods such as an education period which is then followed by a work period.

Many, however, still mindlessly embrace this idea. If you embrace this obsolete idea then you risk the fate of what Alvin Toffler warned when he said that 'the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.'

Help in avoiding this fate is as close as the internet. The use of tools available via the internet can help develop the habit of lifelong learning. For the inquisitive mind, the internet is like an 'all you can eat' buffet. If anyone is interested in a resolution for the New Year, consider pledging to develop the habit of lifelong learning. While the options seem endless, here are a few spots to get you started.

Malcolm Gladwell has a great website: This site offers an archive of Gladwell's New Yorker articles and information about his books. You are sure to learn something.

Watch or listen to a TED Talk: TED is about spreading ideas and each talk only takes about 20 minutes.

Download and read a .pdf file. The Medici Effect by Frans Johanssen will help you learn to be creative. The entire book is available for a free download at The website offers a huge selections of manifestos by some great minds.

Use the websites of traditional media such as or

Use the websites of the new media such as or

Want to learn to play the guitar? There seems to be an unlimited selection of videos on with guitar players showing the chord sequences of songs.

Want to learn to cook? Check out Mark Bittman's wikipedia entry: There are several links at the bottom of the page to Bittman's presence on the web.

What to learn a foreign language?

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are touting the value of learning to play bridge. They are funding programs that teach bridge to school age children. If you think that bridge would be good for the plasticity of your brain, download a free program at that will help you learn to play bridge.

Museums can be great for sparking creativity and learning. Many museums now have a presence on the web. If you want to examine the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, go the British Museum's site that lets you turn page by page through those notebooks:

Watch video on the internet. I learn by watching an unbelievable lineup of guests on The Charlie Rose Show. Episodes are offered at

Listen to a lecture from one of this nation's great universities. MIT offers what they call 'open courseware':

Many are available through itunes: including Stanford: and Yale:

Some universities have related centers and ventures that maintain a separate web presence. For example, Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner: or The Harvard Business Review:

Many of these sites offer the option of subscribing to a podcast: If you want to learn something about economics, you might like

Truly, the options abound. It is up to each individual to decide what they are interested in learning about and then to find the teacher. The idea is to develop a mindset of learning. Always be learning. Committing to be a life long learner is simply a matter of habit.

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