I’ve had an ongoing debate with my oldest son for years. While I consistently tout the benefits of a college education, he questions its necessity. And to his credit, I’m beginning to be swayed.
Don’t get me wrong—I believe wholeheartedly in lifelong learning. If we don’t keep learning, adapting, growing, and improving, we risk being passed by in an ever-changing world. But perhaps the learning model is expanding to include many types of learning, not just the kind done on a university campus.
Out With the Old
Remember the old Schoolhouse Rock theme song? It reminds listeners that “It’s great to learn ‘cause knowledge is power.” In Latin, that idea translates to Sapere Est Valere (literally, “to know is to have power”). That motto has held true for centuries as those who know more have traditionally achieved more. And traditionally, that learning has been linked to formal higher education.
But with the advent of the Internet and the information superhighway, that paradigm is shifting. Parenting then vs. now is a whole new ballgame as is how our kids are learning. While knowing things is still the goal of lifelong learners, how to gain knowledge is changing. Where serious students once learned through formal education, now inquisitive learners, including our own children, can continue to amass knowledge about a vast array of subjects in a variety of places. And honestly, with how much information is expanding and changing these days, it’s impossible to stay ahead of the “knowledge is power” curve. We can’t know everything—or even most things. So, we must view the quest differently.
In this tech age, it’s about more than just acquiring knowledge. We must teach our kids how to seek learning from all the available sources and encourage them to continue to seek that learning throughout their lives. It’s out with the one-solution learning model and in with the new, multi-faceted lifelong learning approach. If our kids are going to get ahead, they must learn how to learn. So what Are Lifelong Learning Strategies you can teach your kids?
Where the Learning Happens
Here are a few avenues you can encourage your kids to explore to help them become and remain lifelong learners.
The Internet: The Internet in general (and YouTube in particular) can sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to our kids. Granted, the Internet offers some verified time wasters, not to mention the many unsavory offerings that we can and should teach our kids to avoid.
However, the Internet is a great source of lifelong learning. With a little creativity, you can think of countless topics to study and learn about online. Here is just a sampling of subjects you and your kids can learn about through online classes.
- Languages through sites like Pimsleur, Babble, and Mondly
- Photography through sites like kelbyone, Udemy, and Masterclass
- Art through sites like Proko, Paintable, and Digital Painting Studio
- Math through sites like Khan Academy, Cuethink, and Math Nation
- Science through sites like Khan Academy, Curiosity Machine, and Teachers Try Science
- Cooking through sites like Whole Foods, Udemy, and Masterclass
- Computer skills through sites like Linkedin, Chandoo, and Microsoft
And if you don’t want to enroll in formal classes, digital libraries, YouTube, and Google searches offer countless resources to learn about topics once inaccessible to the masses. Your kids can study everything from the eating habits of giraffes to the economic struggles of Europe in the last twenty years without leaving the couch. Honestly, there is no limit to the topics your kids can research online.
Technical or Vocational Training: With the information world at our kids’ fingertips, they may not need a formal college education to continue to seek learning. In many cases, specialized training after high school is a smart move.
Here are some fields where technical or vocational training can open doors.
- Civil Engineer Tech
- MRI Tech
- Respiratory Therapist
- Graphic Designer
- Web Developer
- Real Estate Agent
In these and many other fields, the specialized training needed for the job is only a portion of the knowledge someone can gain as a lifelong learner. With technical or vocational training, kids can learn specific, career-based skills in a shorter time. Then, once the specialized training is complete, these lifelong learners can begin lucrative careers while continuing to learn about everything else under the sun in their spare time.
Traditional college: And don’t forget the traditional college route. This is still a valuable and viable option when encouraging kids to be lifelong learners. The trick is finding the right college for your kids. Often, community colleges offer good alternatives to bigger institutions for a fraction of the cost. And many universities these days offer online options for classes or even full degrees.
On the other hand, traditional public or private institutions might be the right fit for your kids. This is an especially appealing option if you can land some merit-based or specialized scholarships to offset rising costs. It’s just a matter of shopping around and weighing all the costs and benefits of the different options.
But don’t forget that even after college, lifelong learning is still important. So how would you encourage students to be lifelong learners? Sharing about what skills that you have learned will be useful to them. As they see how your skill set has helped you (especially if you learned those skills outside of school), they might be more motivated to continue learning.
Keep Learning, No Matter What
The bottom line is to encourage your kids to keep learning, no matter what. With so much information out there for the taking, teach your kids to seek learning from all the available resources. Not sure how to show your kids the importance of lifelong learning? Encourage them to try new things. Support them in honing their skills. Praise them for exploring new topics and deepening their understanding of world events. And remind them that even though it’s great to gain more knowledge, the real success comes in staying curious and always learning new things. That’s the mark of a lifelong learner.
At Troomi Wireless, our mission is to help kids discover their talents and safeguard them along the way. We focus our energy on finding better ways to introduce technology to kids, empowering them to achieve their dreams and live happy, healthy and balanced lives. Lifelong learning is a huge part of what we do. We provide the flexibility necessary to graduate children from one level of responsibility to the next based on needs and maturity. Check out Troomi for a phone that grows with your child and safeguards them while they explore their hobbies and interests online.