Toward a Sustainable Approach to Learning

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 [Taunya is a registered nurse, an author, and a mother to three children. This post is an excerpt from a non-fiction text Taunya is working on periodically entitled From Me to You: A Mother’s Legacy to Her Daughters. Find her author page at]

[Michael A. Wright is mentor, life coach, entrepreneur, curriculum specialist, and Owner/President of MAWMedia Group. His interests span behavioral health, family systems, and wealth creation. Follow @MAWMedia ]



My husband and I were discussing our experiences with education. For those who are not aware, we are homeschooling our 3 children this school year with me as lead teacher. My husband is a college professor.  I proffered an example of the importance of nurturing a sustainable approach to learning. The example is an experience I had this past week with my 6th grader.

Marissa, our 6th grader, is tempted to be frustrated with Math. I told her my experience with Math. It was always intimidating to me. I never knew where the numbers were coming from. So, I never knew how the teacher arrived at an answer. I had to change my approach to Math. It is interesting to me. I am a step-by-step person. That’s what Math has in common with me.

I explained to Marissa that she also must change her approach. The freedom of home school is to obtain a full explanation tailored uniquely to you.  We are not here just to finish tasks and take tests. We are here to engage in the material and have fun learning it our way. We can take our time learning and exploring what the problem is and how to get to the answer without the frustration. I explained that we have the time and the resources to enjoy the challenge. Tests are not a chance to beat yourself up. Even tests are a chance to challenge yourself and figure out how these things work.

My husband noted that this sense of wonder, this approach to learning seems to be lost on many of the college students he works with. Together, we came up with a list of ideas for reawakening or teaching an approach to learning that results in joy rather than frustration.

Step 1: Reframe every lesson as an opportunity for self-development. Knowledge allows you to engage with others as an insider. Learning can be vocabulary building, critical thinking, problem solving, or simple mental exercise. It is not only the knowledge that enhances you. Your learning habits are indicators of your character and ethics.

Step 2: Develop an increased tolerance and approach to overcome ambiguity. You will not immediately grasp everything that is presented to you in a lesson. If you are unable to gain an understanding from the context clues, it is not an embarrassment to pull out a dictionary, to raise your hand or to admit that you do not know a word. The failure would be to give up on the new knowledge as “too hard” and to give in to ignorance intimidated by “big words.”

Step 3: Bring something personal to the lesson. Relate the learning to something you already know or something you want to do. It is much easier for a teacher to answer, “How does this fit with [my interest]. “ As opposed to attempting to address, “I’m lost!”

Step 4: Become curious about how things work. Seek to comprehend the mechanisms in the world around you. Curiosity sparks other questions and motivates a search for answers. Learning is the quest to understand and implement the steps to reach reliable results. Get your comfort in the reliability of new knowledge rather than from maintenance of the status quo.

Step 5: Investigate possible hindrances to steps 1-4. Diet, trauma, school structure, mental health, or dead brain cells…Get away from whatever reduces your concern for self-development, diminishes your tolerance for ambiguity, obscures your sense of personal interest, or dampens your curiosity. Nurture and feed development, strategy, utility, and curiosity rather than neglecting and starving them.