Creating Lifelong Learners

by Mary Johnson, Director, Children's Ministries & ATB&B

In the world of education, there is an important tenet that we try and  instill in the children at All Things Bright and Beautiful and in the Sunday School Chapel: you are a Lifelong Learner. So many times the educational endeavor seems more focused on the specific lesson of the day, the teacher's goals, or worst of all - teaching to the test! As adults, most of us have one or two disciplines that we would say we know very well. We consider that the "learning" took place in school and now we are in the practice of applying what we have learned. And we all have our individual ways of learning. Dr. Howard Gardner originally identified eight specific abilities or intelligences as he called them, and later added the ninth. They are: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential-moral.

If we open our options to the familiar saying "you learn something new every day" and we are intentional about accomplishing that, what would that look like for you? Think of something that you'd like to try and then schedule it into your week. It may require stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger while visiting a new city, or even in your daily commute. For me, not a problem. However I know many individuals for whom that would be a huge step out of the comfort zone! It drives my husband crazy that I can strike up a conversation in a lobby, in an elevator, sitting next to someone in a ball park ....or just about any setting for that matter. I love finding out something about the people I happen to be around.

I think learning is one of the greatest joys in life. As a teacher, when you see the light bulb go on for a child, the face lights up, and there is the discernable "aha" moment, it is truly magical. When do we allow ourselves as adults to seek out those moments? Many professions require Continuing Education credits and in my experience, I haven't had too many "aha" moments while meeting those requirements. It has always seemed rather predictable. There is one regular experience in my week where I am so grateful to learn something new. That is when I come here to Holy Comforter and hear the wonderful, insightful, informative, and formative messages in the weekly homily.

We have some of the most gifted and inspirational clergy here that never fail to open my mind and heart to a new way of seeing things. It contributes to my personal goal of being a Lifelong Learner. The fact that learning happens in this loving, nurturing, and open hearted community is the bonus.

As we begin the academic and parish program year this September, I wish you a year of learning more about yourself, your family, your community and this beautiful world that surrounds us. One of the explanations of the saying "you learn something new every day" is that you are struck by something painfully obvious that you never noticed before. I wonder when that might happen for you.