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The Self-Discovery Digest

by Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh
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The Enduring Value of Teaching and Learning

It's September, back-to-school time here in Minnesota. Children are returning to school, college co-eds are returning to classes or leaving home for the first time, and many of us, regardless of whether or not we are formally enrolled, are feeling a sense of anticipation as if we too were about to embark upon a learning journey.

As most of us were students for a good portion of our early lives, the pattern of starting up again is deeply ingrained and often reminds us that we need to get going, get on with our lives, and start making those changes that the summer's lazy days made us set aside and forget. Like a student at the start of a new school year, open yourself to new experiences, different points of view, and trying things you have not tried before.

How can we capitalize on this back-to-school energy and practice the value of teaching and learning? Here are some simple ways:

• Think about the teachers and elders who have shaped you, make an effort to reconnect and thank them or, if that isn't possible, devise ways you can better emulate the good lessons they taught.

• Take the time to share knowledge with someone who could benefit from your experience. Be patient with questions, remembering that once you were a novice too.

• Seek opinions from new sources and then listen carefully to the perspective that is shared. You don't have to agree with it, simply let it better inform your own thinking.

• At work, with family, or when getting together with a friends, make space for everyone to be involved in the decision making. This might mean taking a back set if you normally lead, or challenging yourself to step in if you typically let others take charge.

• If you are facing a difficult issue, reflect on times past when you felt overwhelmed by a problem but prevailed. Think about what you learned from those experiences and remind yourself you can prevail again.

• Allow yourself a little vulnerability. Admit that you don't know how to do something and let others teach you what they know.

• Contribute more formally to the learning of others by offering your intellectual resources as a school, library, community center, or adult literacy program volunteer.

• Broaden your knowledge base by attending a lecture, enrolling in a course, downloading a free learning module, or being part of an online learning community.

Regardless of our age or station in life, we can always benefit from teaching and learning.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 15
Tapping into the back-to-school spirit, what knowledge or experience can you offer others and what learning experience could you try out that could enrich your life? Using the list provided as your starting point, commit to trying one thing that honors the student and teacher inside of you. Increase the intellectual vibrancy of your world - share your wisdom and let others share theirs with you!

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