Day 7 – A mild case of learner’s guilt?

Posted on: August 9th, 2016 by Clear Thinking Team No Comments

Day 7 Blog PictureMy summer school timetable has seen me spend a whole day in the library today. Not literally ‘in a library’ but focusing all of my attention on learning something new. My reading list, a couple of titles, one a physical book, the other an audio book.

I’ve been looking forward to this element of Summer School as I’m brilliant at buying books (Amazon prime has a great deal to answer for!) but not so brilliant at actually reading them!

Today was my chance and I delved into ‘Mindfulness in 8 week – The revolutionary 8 week plan to clear your mind and calm your life’ by Michael Chaskalson, and ‘The truth about Creativity – rules are there to be challenged’ by Patrick Harris. Both totally relevant to Clear Thinking and the work that Bev and I get involved with on a daily basis. Both subjects that I’m keen to learn more about… why did I feel so guilty spending a whole day reading & listening to them?

Do you ever suffer from learner’s guilt? We seem to come across on a regular basis. It springs from the assumption that by stopping doing ‘real work’ and focusing on your own development, you’ve somehow slipped from the straight and narrow and you’ve something to be mildly ashamed of. Perhaps it’s a tough thinking habit to crack.

Given that I work in the learning game, I should be well beyond the grasp of a way of thinking that is obviously flawed, but it seems that I’m not! I’ve not even got a boss to explain my actions to. It’s all in my head. Irrational thinking 1 – Kate 0.

My mild bout of ‘learner’s guilt’ didn’t stop me from spending my whole day in the library. ‘Real’ books are okay. My strategy is to read them armed with a pen and pad. I make notes about the things that I’m reading that strike me as ‘noteworthy’. I now discover that an audio book is another thing entirely.

Houston – we have a problem!

Usually I listen to audio books when I’m on the move (trains, planes or automobiles) and this feels okay. I’m trapped, with little option but to sit still and do nothing much. When in this situation, listening to a book and learning something new feels like good use of my time. Sitting and listening to an audio book when you’re still free to roam (and therefore free to do other ‘things’) is a very different matter I now discover. For me it is accompanied by a nagging feeling that I should be doing something more than just sitting and listening.

I finally got round the feeling that I was sitting about doing not a lot, by finding something to do whilst I listened that didn’t distract me from absorbing what I was hearing. For me, this happened to be sewing, something that I love doing and something that doesn’t need too much thinking about. It might sound a little ridiculous, but it’s true.

I’m pretty sure that listening to a book about mindfulness whilst doing something else, is ironic in the extreme. It clearly shows that I’m still a work in progress. I’m happy that I’ve found a solution for me that helps me feel comfortable. And therefore open to learn and absorb. Having found it, I’m more likely to listen to a few more of my many audio books.

I also have more empathy for people who are trying to prioritise their learning when they have 101 pressing things. It’s a case of getting creative, of finding a way that works for you, for now, and not getting too hung up on how it might seem to the rest of the world.

What about you? Is learner’s guilt something that you’re prone to? If so, how have you managed to get over or around it? What tip would you share with others who are still struggling to find their way? We’d love to hear from you.

P.S. If you’re just about to google ‘learner’s guilt’ it’s not a real thing. It’s a phrase I have coined to try to explain what I was feeling and what I’ve heard other learners talk about when explaining why it’s hard to prioritise learning over ‘real’ work.


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