Pagan Journeys > Beginner's Chat

How do you learn?

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Everybody learns a bit differently.  Depending on the subject, you may find that different methods work better than others for one thing and a completely different approach is better for another.

I am not one that learns well in a very structured and rigid environment that involves couching everything in very dry and heavy academic terms that only PhDs can comprehend.  I’m not saying that that method is ineffective or wrong, it just isn’t the kind of environment that I learn well in.

For me, I learn through common sense and tactile and emotional interaction.  In other words, just getting in and doing.   I also tend to learn better if I can find a connection to the subject somewhere in my daily life.  That is probably why I always disliked most math.  The teachers never really gave us a real life view of how we could use it in our everyday lives outside of handling time and money.  It was just “Here is a problem.  You solve it like this because that is what I said”.

When it comes to reading, I will retain much more of what I’ve read if the author can personalize the material rather than present it as a college lecture, a list of facts or abstract theory.  If I read something and I don’t get the sense that the author has dealt with any of the normal, everyday trials and troubles that most humans experience, I have a difficult time swallowing what they are talking about.

It probably sounds a bit on the wonky side, but I have learned more about myself and what I believe and don’t believe by reading works of fiction than I have from any other source.  That isn’t to say that I believe in some make believe world, but those worlds are often created in such a way to help you understand this one and how we interact with it.

Of all of the things that I consider myself good at (I don’t consider myself an expert at anything), every one of them are mostly self taught through getting in and doing and experiencing.  Sure, I have also learned by researching, reading, listening to others experiences and opinions, but it was still mostly trial and error.  More times than not, lots of error.

I am the type of person that when I get something new that has to be put together, I glance at the instructions to get the general idea and then get started doing.  For me, I have found that most step by step instructions are missing at least one or two critical pieces along the way and if I depend only on those, nothing would ever get done or it wouldn’t hold up when it was finished.  I have found that my spirituality is much the same.  If I have to rely on dry academics or step by step instructions, I’d never have the satisfaction of feeling as though I was a part of forming my spirituality nor would that spirituality hold up to the onslaught of daily life.

Good post Fox!  Its interesting to learn how other people learn.

Myself, I am hands on.  I like to "feel" what I'm doing.  Much like you, I learn better if something is more personalized instead of feeling like your reading out of a text book.

I'm getting ready to teach my first Wicca 101 year and a day.  I'm teaching about 80% of the class.  And with each class I have written, I give the students my personal experiences and try to make real life situations when I can.  I feel a good number of people learn better that way.  expecially with religion.  I can talk about deity and energy and the moon phases till I'm blue in the face.  But if I dont add in my own personal views or add in my own experiences then whats the point of teaching?  You can learn this knowledge in hundreds of books.  But most people who are starting out in Wicca or Paganism are alone, they dont have anyone to talk to.

I'm just trying to make it a little more real for these seekers

Interesting post.  Thanks, Fox.

I need to involve all parts of me to learn something new.  I do like the history, the facts, but those things are just that to me, interesting ideas to get me started or to explain something I can't put into place.  I love ideas.  I love talking about ideas and learning new ideas.  But I don't own something as my own until I work with it and make it my own.

I need to constantly learn at work.  I love having the big picture in place with facts and then drill down to the smaller elements.  I get new software to use all the time.  My team members are great because they know the routine by now.  I take the tutorial or go to the class, THEN I start messing with it and have 100 questions.  Once I get the basics, I'm off and running.  That's when the fun, creative stuff starts.

As far as learning about spirituality is concerned, I think it's very much the same.  I am not the scholarly type there.  I look for information that I need, when I need it.  But mostly I look for inspiration.  I'm grateful for what I know, what I've been taught, for the sharing of ideas.  But honestly?  Living life mindfully is my greatest teacher.

I've been thinking of things I can share here in Pagan Journeys that might be useful to newbies who come onboard.  It's a fine balance between sharing some of what I believe with being open to others who may see things a different way.  When switching from the student role to the teacher role, I am very much the same.  I can share some facts (as I see them anyway), but hopefully I can share more than that and pass on some of the same kind of inspiration that keeps me going.

I guess I learn in a lot of different ways.  Actually, I am a very good student with the dry type of academics.  I've always loved math and science and the theory behind them.  I also enjoy literature and the study of literary devices.

When I get interested in something, I usually read everything I can get my hands on.  In past times, I would read everything available at the public library.  With the advent of the Internet, I can surf from one site to another for hours on end when I am studying something new. 

I also learn by doing.  When I have to learn a new program at work, I'll usually download the tech manuals and then I just start using the program.  I provide tech support on several control systems and I've never attended formal tech training for most of them.

I guess I've learned my spirituality in the same manner: researching the theory and diving into the application and practice.

I'm a voracious reader, as long as something piques my interest. For example, I've never read The Lord of the Rings because I can't stand Tolkien's way of writing... but I love the movies.

In general with learning I'm part "read the instructions" and part "look at the pictures and figure it out as I go along". I see the logic in things and can follow it, seeing how the pieces fit together to make part of a larger whole. With regards to my spiritual path, I see recurring themes and similarities in things I read and experience, and tend to accept those as my Truths. But the way in which I live within those Truths is very personal.

Sometimes the analytical side is more of a hinderance than a help, and I have been admonished on more than one occasion to "Feel, not think".


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