Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Importance of Importance

I used to think i couldn't learn. My life K-12 was pretty miserable. Except when I found (or they found me) a teacher who saw my potential with just a little help. It wasn't until my first quarter in college, after spending years in the Air Force, when I took a class called, Study Skills. This article isn't just about education or college. I'm simply using that as an example.

This is really all about, life. About seeing and being able to see what is really there and needs to be.

Sunrise from my home in Bremerton
I realized, that yes, one actually can learn. There is a method. One that works. I have no idea why that wasn't taught in grade school. I knew others could learn more easily, I just couldn't figure out how they did it. Until it was explained to me.
During my university years toward my eventual B.A. in psychology, my main professor and adviser once said that the reason people can't remember things is they didn't think they were important enough to bother to remember.

Or, they didn't make them important enough to remember. Many, maybe even most (though I'd dispute that from what I've seen of late), seem to have an innate ability to remember things..I for one, do not have that ability come easy to me.

Another issue is taking things from short term memory and putting them into long term memory.

Either way it became clear to me at some point that it's all about importance.

Consider. You are in a serious traumatizing situation. It's one of those times when for the rest of your life you will never be able to forget what happened. Why? Because it was important at the time. One way or another, it was made to be important. Very important. More important than anything.

And so it was when I was in college. I realized I had to make things important to me. I had to make my mission getting that college degree. Secondary were good grades. When there was a choice between learning and good grades, I would go with learning. My entire experience of college therefore was two fold.

Get a degree and learn (but after all, do try to keep up your grades, so maybe 2.5 fold?).

Through life, once one is degreed, there is an alternating issue of which is more important. The degree, or the grades that brought it about? I never once had anyone check if I had good grades toward my degree, and seldom did they even check if I did have a degree. Some did, however.

For the most part I'd say learning is far more important than either grades or degree. However, one needs the degree so much of the time in order to be better situated in order to need and use that learning.

Thus it may be more important to get the degree in a sense, than to learn. followed up by good grades. Of course you need grades good enough (C or above) in one's major area of study in order to move past that class (and not have to retake it). But aside from all that, learning really is or should be, paramount. I saw too may younger students who thought partying was the most important aspect of college. And perhaps sadly, some of them may now be running companies, or even more sadly, parts of our government.

Learning really is more important in the end than anything else. More important than party time, rest, relaxation, personal relationships, or even (oh no!), money.

Beyond all that and perhaps intrinsic with it it, it is really all about what is important enough to remember, and what isn't.

IF you make the entire situation important, that is, if you see college in this case, as your life depending upon learning and graduating (at times more specifically on certain classes or papers), if it is most important to you and you see it as your life depending upon it, you will learn. And you will remember.

Of course, you also need to follow certain obvious and reasonable practices. Did you know if you do not review what has happened, or what you have learned, you can forget 80%? I had a method (one I was taught) to take notes during class, after class as soon as possible, review those notes, any handouts, or papers or content from that class. Review it that night briefly. Then the end of the week and finally at the end of the month.

Thus you force it all into longer term memory. You make it important. but you also make it important in class as you are learning new material, and see it, experience it, as you life depending on it. Not to stress yourself out about it, but to simply focus, being mindful, being present, and knowing at all times in the back of your mind, the rest of your life depends on learning and remembering it.

And that brings us to the issue at hand.

We have a culture now where little is deemed as truly important. We are distracted. We try to multitask which has inherent issues regarding learning and even health. Our attentions spans are shorter than ever. We are perhaps too oriented toward fun and what is easier in desiring shortcuts. And not enough oriented toward what is fun and pleasurable, in being able to not overwork too much and in not taking proper vacations.

Our priorities are skewed from what a human needs out of life. They are skewed by those who wish us to give as much as is possible and then some, for the least amount of payback by them to you for your efforts, and a loyalty to you that is lacking, while their expectations of loyalty from you is required.

Short cuts aren't that great unless they are also the best for the situation. Shortcuts for the sake of them are destructive. Don't be lazy, but do be economical. Work smarter not harder so you have the ability to make the important important and the non important, forgettable. Just choose carefully what is and really should be forgettable.

I agree. Economy of motion, action and resources is important. But that has come to be misconstrued as simply the best way to always go. And far too often it's just, not.

The caveats, are important.

Make what is and should be (and that's) important...important. Be mindful.

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