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  • Writer's pictureDavid Gaudet

Open Letter to Learners


Dear Learner,


You begin this learning season in a dense, stubborn fog of uncertainty, fear and anger. Not an optimal environment for tackling the primary goal before you – to open the doors to your mind and allow new knowledge to enter, and new ideas to form. To learn to learn.


Don’t let loud voices torment or tempt you into taking sides. Don’t let them steal your objectivity and close your mind. Don’t let them drag you into the cauldron of polarity. Think for yourself. Think critically. Think about your thinking.


It matters not the field of study in which you enter, the greatest ally to your learning will be your insistence upon getting to and understanding the truth. Don’t push away nor reject those who disagree with you. Instead, switch on empathy to seek understanding of their point of view. Look around you. Witness how we are treating one another. Thwart the temptation toward contempt.


Imminently you will begin receiving career-related knowledge. Let it enter. Understand it. Ask questions and challenge it until it becomes a part of your mind’s mainframe. But while this knowledge matters, and presumably why you entered into these hallowed halls of academia, what matters most, and what you will be measured and judged most crucially years from now, is not what you’ve learned, but how you think. How you will make sense of situations and think your way through puzzles, challenges and surprises.

You might think people like me front of the classroom know all the answers. We don’t. But we have earned the right to receive your respect, just as your seat in the classroom gives you the right to learn in an environment of inclusion and non-judgement. The contract you have made to be here is not merely one of knowledge transfer, but one of personal growth. To improve yourself. Take advantage of this privilege while neither abusing it nor using it to allow polarizing thoughts and actions to come in.


There is much to learn in coming days and months, but it won’t all be from the mouths and whiteboard markers of your profs. It will be from how you allow new ideas and different perspectives to challenge those already deeply entrenched within you. It will come from consciously battling biases and seeking truth and understanding.


It may seem like the world is on fire outside. Humanity finds itself in uncharted territory of divisiveness. Your job as a learner is neither to take sides, nor find your way into some cozy spot in the middle. Your job is to learn to learn. To think about your thinking. By doing this, you as a learner will also become a teacher. Accordingly, we the teachers must similarly embrace the notion of becoming the learners.

If you’re new to my blog, right about here I insert an action tip from my book, “The Daily Undoing: Being Better at Being Human”. As usual, it comes with the frank admission that I did not write this book from a propped up position of superiority. On the contrary it comes from the self awareness of my own flawed being, and a constant reminder to myself that there are always ways of being better. In this way, the book, which provides a framework of 8 pillar competencies we all possess, but all too rarely access, has become more cathartic to me as a reader, than it was as the author. My hope is that, if nothing else, this small sample gives you something good to think about.


Best wishes in being better at critical thinking.

Dave


EPISODE 183 COMPETENCY: CRITICAL THINKING Critical thinking is a critical competency because sound decisions require neutrality – something that doesn’t come naturally. We favour things, harbour opinions, even prejudices, which we must strive to neutralize when making important decisions. ACTION: NEUTRALIZE Think of a current news story and write a counter argument to your own opinion about it. Write out your argument in the space below.

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