Learning for your future self

When in school and later in college, what was your answer to this question: “Who are you learning for?” Let me give you these options:

  • Parents. Because they told you do sit down and do your homework.
  • Teachers. Because they will give you a grade in the exam.
  • Friends. Because you want to hang out together next year, too.

Once we graduate from the national education system, the question becomes trickier to answer. The education system loses its grip. The force of compliance dissolves and accountability disappears.

Now the person that really matters for why we learn gets easier to see. For you, the answer is most probably: me. You are your own most relevant accountability buddy. And it has been you all along.

Have you also experienced phases of I don’t care, I don’t want to learn, or why? and what for? It’s difficult to be your own accountability buddy.

What we need maybe more than an accountability buddy is a North Star to help us self-direct our personal education and keep our motivation intact. Especially for lifelong learners, what follows is interesting:

Matthew McConaughey, in his 2014 Oscar acceptance speech, thanked a particular person, a person he chases. His hero. Guess what he came up with, when asked who that was at age 15? It was “me, in 10 years”. It was him at 25 when he was 15, and him at 35 when he was 25. This him keeps his distance, but gives him imaginary footsteps to follow. He retains motivation to keep on chasing him.

You are learning for your future you. That’ll be the person who give you a slap on the back and tells you “Good job, I’m proud of you!” The point of learning is to grow and become a better version of yourself. If you learn for your future self, you will always progress.

This post was created with Typeshare

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Erik Jentges

Erik Jentges

Exploring higher education futures | Coaching instructors to teach with more impact | Head of D-MTEC Teaching Innovations Lab at ETH Zurich