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While the age for leaving school – or college – may have increased over the years, from 14 a few decades ago to 18 in more recent years, the sentiment expressed by many on reaching this milestone has not. 
 
And, with testing now starting early on in Primary School, it’s completely understandable that many teenagers have simply had enough of formal education by the time they reach 18. Vowing to NEVER EVER take another exam again. 
 
While some do manage to avoid any further formal education – and the dreaded exams – is it really true that you’ll never need to learn anything else again? 
 
 
Well, no. 
 
Whether we realise it or not, we’re continually learning new things. 
 
From easier or quicker ways to do all those things we do each day, often out of habit or on autopilot. Ironing out the wrinkles of our day to day lives, so they flow more easily. 
 
To acquiring new knowledge or skills, whether related to those we already have or in a completely different field. 
 
So what’s the difference? 
 
To start with, this learning is voluntary (!) and so we’re much clearer on why we’re doing it and the benefits it brings. Once we have these, the motivation to do it quickly follows. And it doesn’t matter how big or small it is. Perhaps it simply makes a routine task easier or quicker, leaving more time or energy for something we do enjoy doing. Or, perhaps, it’s more tangible or longer term. A better salary, job satisfaction or career prospects. 
 
However, just as important, is the way in which new knowledge or skills are acquired. Thankfully, formal education – book learning – is only one way of learning. There are so many different ways of taking in information and we each have our preferred way(s) of doing this. 
 
For example, someone who is visual works best with pictures and mind maps. Another person may prefer words, whether spoken out loud or written down. Some prefer to work alone, others in groups. And these are only a few ways in which people take in information. And, as an aside, it’s easy to see how children can so easily struggle at school when the way information is taught simply doesn’t resonate with them. 
 
Regardless of which way we prefer to acquire any new information, sitting down and learning things from a theoretical point of view isn’t our natural way of doing it. If you’re in any doubt, just watch any single person – or group of people – doing something new and you’ll see that their approach is the same. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s toddlers with a new toy or adults with a problem at work or some dreaded flat pack furniture to assemble (!). 
 
Our natural approach to anything new is always practical not theoretical, regardless of exactly how we do it. To experiment and play with it. Lots of trial and error. To understand how it works and what it can be used for. And if you’re in any doubt about this, look at the state of any instruction book days, weeks or months later… It’ll still be virtually pristine! 
 
In the process, any relevant experience is utilised. Or, perhaps, a completely new – and creative – approach is needed. More often, it’s a combination of the two. Gradually, over time – whether a few minutes, hours or days (!) – we become more confident and accomplished with it. And this process of continuous improvements continues long after the initial learning phase is over. 
 
True a little book learning – or googling – can help speed the process along, but it’s only part of how we learn. After all, information is only useful when we actually use it. Knowing it in theory – but not in practice – is not going to get us very far when we need to do it. And this is where many people inadvertently trip themselves up. Always focus on learning things that are useful to you and can then lead on to other things. 
 
So what is the message that we’d like to leave you with today? 
 
Well, remember that regardless of how you do it – and its size or complexity – you’re learning new things every day. Every day of your life. And this is as it should be. The key, as always, is finding something you’re interested in. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something that interests a lot of other people or is more of a niche topic. Whether it’s elated to a hobby or your work. Whatever it is, each person will have their own take on it, with their own unique blend of knowledge and experience. Then let it spark your imagination and enthusiasm. Learn more about it in whichever way suits you best and see where it takes you. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
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