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The Relentless Learner has become the most important person in the worldwide search for talent. How can we identify them?

Most relentless learners are independent learners. The take programs, attend events, go online and learn in as many ways as they can. And they learn because they are driven to know and know-how things are done. When that thing is related to their performance at work, they trump what is casually referred to as "talent" and leave static event-based degrees and certifications in the dust. Every great innovation and invention can be traced to a relentless learner, yet they are the least understood, rewarded and identified hidden asset an organization or field of study can have. How do we identify and support the relentless learners?

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    Jul 26 2012: I would ask: How do we create more relentless learners? How do we nurture curiosity? How do we uncover the intellectual spark that ignites the flame of action? My answer would be change the rules of the game, starting with open code education. If would be nice if we could expand the education menu and let the student pick his or her path early on even in grade school.
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      Gail .

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      Jul 28 2012: I think that the first course taught should be a course that teaches love of learning. It would be easy enough to do. The rewards are so readily obvious. It can be taught in kindergarten. It isn't taught at all.
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    Jul 26 2012: i'm a relentless learner, and you can support me by sending chocolate
    • Jul 27 2012: How about I send you the recipe and you can relentlessly learn to make as much as you can eat?
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        Jul 28 2012: thanks but no thanks. i can find it for myself within 47 seconds. the division of labor works as this: i continue to listen to leonard susskind's lecture on string theory, and you send chocolate.
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    Gail .

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    Jul 28 2012: We can fix our educational systems - FIRST AND FOREMOST.

    I am an insatiable learner. There is nothing that I love more, and nothing that brings more satisfaction than learning. There is no field of study that I am not curious about. At the same time, because I don't personally know anyone else who loves learning, I am very isolated.

    When I gave up formal education that left too many questions either unanswered, or incompletely or dishonestly answered, my real education began and it developed into a passion. But I had to learn how to change the way I think, and I had to be willing to give up culturally cherished beliefs that conflicted with what I learned to be factual. This makes me an "outsider", who is often treated as a rebel for introducing facts where facts are not welcome.

    Our educational systems are built for the benefit of industry and profits, not for the benefit of the people being educated. Creativity and rational thought are educated out of us by the time we leave high school. We are not taught some fundamental things that all need to know about if there is going to be a fix to our common woes (like comparative economics, as ONE instance)

    Why are some fields of study inappropriate for education while others are considered appropriate? Why do we not connect the various compartments (fields of study) that are so obviously connectible to one who is not functionally uneducated?

    Though I am better educated than anyone I know, I have not purchased any "certificates" that validate my claim of being educated. I can give you fact-based solutions to all of our global & personal problems, but who will hear me out?

    When our educational systems are fixed, and not rigged against us, there can be opportunity. But for now, those like me seem destined to remain isolated self-actualized individuals. Because of ignorance, $$$ has become so alluring that no one can be heard above its voice.
  • Jul 25 2012: Good answer. I was imagining a program, perhaps a database that industries had, vendor-neutral for whatever learning in transmitted (agnostic as to methods, approaches, tools etc.) where independent (aka relentless) learners could gain credits for their independent continuous learning and be acknowledged, track their credits, perhaps receive certificates for levels of learning, have emails sent to the people with whom they work to keep abreast of what they are learning, be able to have an eportfolio to show work, be in contact and learn from one another ... we have ALL that technology now but we have an analog 20th century imagination about how to put it to good use.

    Imagine if you were an employer looking for "talent" and you could look at a number of relentless learners who had earned a Gold Certificate in your field and related areas to help you form a Relentless Learner Team optimized for success. The resume shows what you did (a historical document) while a certificate of learning would be current and indicate what you can do.
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      Jul 26 2012: Here I am!

      Addition: Now where can I help?
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      Jul 26 2012: So the problem is then, how do we as other people tell that they have learned what they learned? The whole history track record, Gold Certificate, etc. are basically ways for other people to understand what this one guy knows. So how can we see that, Oh this kid fully understands this one concept?
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        Jul 26 2012: James how can you ask what I have learned after I have answered more than 5000 questions. Do you want the Cliff's notes?
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          Jul 26 2012: ?? I'm not quite sure I understand your question...

          But I'll take whatever you got to show me :)
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        Jul 26 2012: I tend to be conservative in my behaviour but I will happily show you my mind if you care to read the more than 5000 questions that I have responded to on this TED site. I think it pretty much covers what I have learned and all of my opinions but then I am still answering so who knows?
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          Jul 26 2012: Sure, I'm definitely interested!
        • Jul 27 2012: Debra,
          As a proclaimed relentless learner how can you say that 5000 responses covers what you know?!? By definition you are still learning and thus your opinions would be changing ;-)
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        Jul 26 2012: You can learn of anyone's learning and opinions by clicking on their profile and reading their answers to questions. Thanks James.
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          Jul 26 2012: Hmmmm... This clicking of people's profiles, what is this black magic??? lol I kid
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        Jul 27 2012: How about through short term, hands-on projects in their community?

        I'm in the infancy stage of putting together a liaison service that links issues presented by the gerneral public and "Relentless Learners" who are willing to use their self-taught skills to directly solve these issues.

        I can see the promise of a program like David describes if it is paired with a way for the independent learners to create their own track record while earning income and using their self-taught skills in the real world.

        source: personal experience
        • Jul 27 2012: Mariah,

          Great answer. And their work would be part of that learning that they would be learning about in order to do the work ... nice loop rather like a modern apprenticeship and there could be levels of achievement/rewards/awards/certificates along the way from novice onward.
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      Gail .

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      Jul 28 2012: GREAT idea
  • Jul 25 2012: Agreed. I was one of those kids that was always "daydreaming" and "not paying attention" to the boring lesson and was reading so much that i was literally chased out of the house by my dad. I was relentless and have remained so to this day. So there are people who managed to get past the stultifying system and stay relentless. Who are they? How do we identify and reward and support them? They will be the place where innovation and creation comes from. And we should decided now that No Child Left Behind means no child with the great overarching desire and will to learn has that "relentless learner" shackled and closely bound to the curiosity of only the things they want to consume.
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      Jul 26 2012: I think that we then just need more people to understand the second group that Maximilian refers to as. And thus, we would need the first group, because the first group sounds like they're more understanding of others, like they sound like the people who want to see the big picture, while the second group want to focus on a specific thing down to its most technical sense. So I think there needs to be a higher demand for the first group, so that the second group can be accepted by society, as they would thus be more understood.
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    Jul 25 2012: I think before we can identify the relentless learners, we need to acknowledge that there are really two types of `Relentless Learners.` The first are people who like to learn about anything and everything. They are fascinated with understanding the hows and the whys of everything.

    The second type of `Relentless Learner`is the person who finds their passion, then focuses all of their energies into becoming specialized in their passion. These are the real change makers.

    So, with this in mind I think the answer becomes a little more clear.

    The second group we really do not need to worry about because no matter what situation, they will rise to the top.

    This leaves us with utilizing the first groups willingness to learn into direct, physical results. My answer to this would be to get to really know these people, and figure out what they are passionate about. From there you can give them the tools necessary to cultivate direct action!
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      Jul 26 2012: The second group I think is also the more problematic socially. Because it sounds to me like they're more focused on a specific thing and a specific way of thinking, which isn't a bad thing imo. But maybe that's where there becomes communication problems with the second group and everyone else. But maybe that's why we will need the first group, to be able to understand the second group...
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        Gail .

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        Jul 28 2012: I suspect that I may agree with you, James. Those who find and follow their passions are often exploring the depth and breadth of one particular field, which is fine, if they explore outside of the boxes that destructive educational systems impose upon them.

        The two should work hand-in-hand. Group 1 comes up with new ideas - fields for which those who want to follow a particular passion can find inspiration.

        If there were a web site where people posted seemingly unsolvable problems (business or political), and were to open it up for solutions, (being able to ask questions), I would be part of it. I am exceedingly good at that. But I wouldn't want to be used badly by a system that profits from the freely given work of others. At least give me credit to add to a resume. And if I come up with an "invention" that solves your problem, allow the patents to remain in the public domain.

        I won't be anyone's slave, and I work best when money isn't involved.
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          Jul 28 2012: The kind of thing you're talking about is pretty much the idea of the open-source phenomenon. Also, if you ever heard of Stack-Overflow, this is basically exactly what you're talking about, but for solving any programming and computer-related things. There's an API called StackExchange where you can make it not only for just computer-related things, but anything else.

          I've also had a pretty similar idea, of trying to create a social media platform for the sole purpose of fixing problems, or generating new ideas... Hmm actually I shall post that idea on TedTalks soon.
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          Jul 29 2012: James, I too have been planning a social media platform of a similar nature. It is more to first, find the passion of the user through good, reliable sources of information and then two turning that passion into constructive action.

          Maybe we could team up and create something even better than what we could individually. Please contact me if you are interested;
  • Aug 5 2012: Wonderful question- but also as important is the question "what does it take to make one a relentless learner, or is the relentless learner a natural gift, ability or disability?"

    If a relentless learner isn't aware that they even are employed, or even being considered for employement, they are like the wind on their own set course. How can they 'leave things in the dust' if they themselves do not know what they are leaving?

    To even ask the question above, should already tell you that you have the ability to identify the relentless learner, its up to you how you choose to support them.
    Relentless learners are not mind readers, nor do they want to be. : )
  • Jul 31 2012: Well, I think that the question is quiet ambiguous. Why should Relentless Learners be identified? and What kind of support do they need? I suppose that you refer to the economical side, that these people should be given money so they invent tools. Or do you mean that society must help them to develop their abilities/knowledge?

    Whatever the case I don't think they need to be identified, as they actually show up all by themselves. If they have something to invent, it's pretty much probable that they will make the plan and search funding, and the best applications will get them... Think of "best" as the "most affordable, most practical, most commercial" invention around there.

    If you talk about abilities, they might seek help if they need, or look around for contests if they desire win rewards for it.

    So the only answer i can find is that government and the different economical systems should give more opportunities for anyone to submit their ideas. If a Relentless Learner needs help for something useful to be made, he'll find it. If he just wants to keep on learning, he'll find it easily. If he has a bad idea (unuseful, unaffordable) it shouldn't be made anyway.
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    Jul 31 2012: Why try to identify these individuals'? Why not try to inspire everyone to be this relentless learner?

    I suggest we attempt to inspire anybody we get a chance to. People need to see there is more in this world than their own limiter world and sphere of connections. I believe only then will talent be in everyone and better intellectual infrastructures will form.
  • Jul 30 2012: I really feltr a glimmer of understanding as Debra Smith discussed this as a self-definition. I am partial to rationals myself, too. This is hardly a universal feeling. The rest of the world won't act like you, think like you, feel like you. etc. This is not always a productive attitude.
  • Jul 30 2012: 'Relentless learners' do it not for recognition they do it for passion, find some one who is extremely passionate about what ever you want them to learn about, give them all the resources possible but only one goal: surprise me whit what you can do. These relentless learners would jump at the opportunity. If you really want to find them, all you have to do is get the word out that you are looking for a completely new idea or an addition to any previous idea that could further better their purposes. Because people who learn often form unrealistic ideas that could be only realistic with the right recourses and encouragement to do it.
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    Jul 30 2012: The pace of change and desire to understand a topic, concept or a pattern has necessitated the inquisitive individual to be a "relentless learner" to navigate through our daily life.

    Granted this is not something new but the source for knowledge and learning are increasing by leaps and bounds to benefit both the privileged and the under privileged.

    Digitization,the internet, on line education/courses and associated technologies like search engines, Wikipedia etc. have aided this learning process.

    Knowledge is increasing at a faster pace and the individual who can understand and abstract it to recall and leverage it at the time of need becomes the "talent" the world is searching for.
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      Jul 30 2012: On that same note, while digital and internet may have helped provide answers for those who seek, it's has also helped in taking away many peoples desire to work out problems of their own accord. There's a lot in observing the quality of students in our modern age who no longer read because they can just "Google it" or cannot even read a map because they're used to asking their phone where to go. So when is it we draw the line between gratuitous provision of knowledge, and earning it?
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    Jul 28 2012: It seems that people here are discussing two separate issues:
    (1) How are relentless learners created
    (2) How do we identify relentless learners of working age

    My thoughts:
    (1) I would venture to say that everyone starts off with at least the potential to be a relentless learner. Ever talked to a little kid and had them bombard you with "Why" questions? Parenting style and our educational system determine whether this relentless learning trait carries into adulthood. The brain is a pattern-seeking device. It's goal is to learn and to improve itself over time. I think that "relentless learning", which I think is synonymous with "life-long learning", is not uncommon... but for many people it has become hidden behind years of negative reinforcement.
    (2) I think this problem can be abstracted to, "How do I determine how good this person is at X", where X could be anything. Take education for example. How do we evaluate performance? Is it based on results? Effort? Ability? Rate of improvement? There are many ways to measure performance, and everyone will give a different set of an ideal performance metric. Great. Now try measuring this performance. It turns out that performance metrics which have to do with "results" are much easier to measure than "potential/ability". A "relentless learner" may have enormous potential, but fewer/worse "results" than someone with more experience but less potential. While the "relentless learner" might be a better choice, who will perform better in the evaluation phase which involves a resume and an interview: the "relentless learner" who might ultimately do better or the person with degrees, titles, some relevant experience, etc? It's hard to measure someone's potential quickly, whether in an academic or a workplace setting. I'm sure it can be done, but it seems like a mostly yet-to-be-solved problem.
  • Jul 28 2012: Again, this is related to personalities. This sounds like an INTJ common in certain areas in a University. Again Keirsey was helpful in Please Undestand Me . The compromises are very obvvious in the real world.
  • Jul 27 2012: Every single person is a relentless learner according to your own definition. If you do one thing with passion all your life, then one day you gonna be perfect in what you are doing. If you have to do things without passion, you will be become very good, but there is always someone better, more perfect.

    And, we hold us down, because we give things a value. Less valuable things followed with passion are rarely respected by the society. So for example a talented bycicle driver will not earn much applause when doing tricks on his bike, but the more perfect he is, the more interesting it gets, because it shows physical and other theories. Imagine there would be nobody in this world with passion for driving a bycicle, nobody would do tricks on these then, we probably would not know that it is possible to do that.

    The same you find in universities, subjects we give a financial or social value are supported, others we support less, so their discoveries are less often, what makes it also difficult for the better supported, because they often need discoveries from other subjects to make own new discoveries faster.

    We do not have to find such learners, we simply have to let them be. But we move in that direction, as you see, more and more subjects are mixed, probably in the end there is just one subject: "Do what you like most", with access to all usefull tools.

    You do not get a delicious meal if your cook is just given a cup of rice. If you give him all possible foods, and he has passion for cooking, you get the best cuisine in the long run. Our "world" develops so slowly, because we are still feared of the idea that every meal for everyone is delicious. But that will also change, as you see, centuries ago just a few had access to machines, today all of us have. And so on.

    So the relentless learner will be found in the end, through himself, again.
  • Jul 26 2012: I think one of the problems is the bridge between the job market and the relentless learner. I think Job searching by dynamic profiling would fill that gap. One site that finds the right place to add value for everyone.
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    Jul 26 2012: David, When I went to job fairs and collected tons of resumes I learned that all kids have talent. Some have experience, some newly gratuated, some Masters, some PHd. So what do we use to seperate the wheat from the shaft. The trick is to marry the need to the talent or the talent to the need if you perfer.

    When it gets down to the final three the seperation is microscopic. Your concern is the relentless learner. What I need is someone who can take that knowledge and apply it.

    Being a professional student looks great but what have you done with it .... what can you do with it ... show me. In todays military, government, and corporate world much of the work is compartmentalized. "X" is completed in Seattle, "Y" is accomplished in Ft Worth, and "Z" in LA when the time is right all of the pieces X, Y, and Z will be brought to Phoenix and the puzzle assembled.

    As a manager I can tell you that I think you are wrong. I knew who was the real talent on the project. You are right about not always being rewarded. There are certain assets required to move up in each area. Just because that person has the talent does not mean they could ever lead at any level. We can be sure that they will be promoted. They will rise to project assistant manager for operations and their talent will be used over and over but always a brides maid never the bride. Relentless learner does not translate to application which is necessary to meet the needs.

    All the best. Bob.
    • Jul 27 2012: What you would look for would depend on your need. I don't think it's a question of good or bad but rather desired or undesired. For an employee who can function independently in maintaining an existing position successfully, education and/or experience may be more important than if someone is looking to expand through a research and development type of position, where a relentless learner would be an important consideration.
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        Jul 27 2012: As a supervisor of numerous R & D projects I can assure you that is not the case.

        • Jul 27 2012: So what DO you look for, and why wouldn't a relentless learner be on your list of desirable attributes in a candidate?
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        Jul 27 2012: R & D is results oriented. I need proven achievers that are project oriented and can stay on task. Early in the conversation the relentless learner is someone who is not focused. A person who skips from one area of study to another absorbing information with no desire or inclination to apply that information. R & D is money invested in the companies future. It is limited and if no results are found then it must move on to a more fruitful area.

        I never said that a relentless learner could not function in these areas ... I am saying that if given a choice I do not think a relentless learner would last in the long run where a focused task oriented proven performer would.

        We could each provide arguments where they would fit ... or not. In the final analysis the decision is in the hands of the project manager. He must marry the talent to the assigned tasks. He has limited resources and limited manpower and must make decisions in the interest of a successful project or he will not lead again. A bad decision is a 1000 hours of wages and manpower wasted.

        As David said in his explaination, ... "and when related to his work performance ...." If this person had the talent related to the task they would probally be chosen. But never solely on the basis of being a relentless learner.

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          Gail .

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          Jul 28 2012: You are incorrect in your assessment of what a relentless learner is.

          You said, "A person who skips from one area of study to another absorbing information with no desire or inclination to apply that information".

          My joy and source of inspiration comes from finding solutions to seemingly unfixable problems. Give me a challenge, and I will work independently, learning all that I need to know in any field of study, to find a workable solution with a factual foundation, and I will find that solution. I haven't failed yet.

          Ideas don't exist in a vacuum. They are all connected. I can use that awareness, where you cannot, thus I can accomplish things that overly-compartmentalized people cannot.

          Unfortunately for companies like yours, I don't fit well. It's really your loss that you are not able to apply that information because you do not understand the fundamentals of what it means to be an insatiable learner.
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        Jul 28 2012: Gail, I went back and read all of your comments to see if I could better understand your reply. You quit formal education because you did not fit, you feel isolated, allow you to work independently to solve problems, you will not be anyones slave, great annoyance with the educational system, etc ... I think I have a picture.

        As a project manager, one must work with the talent given. That is not always a easy task. That each has an ego that usually bruises easily is managable. Other traits could be they are loners, develop tunnel vision and thought, deep seated hates which inspire unacceptable attitudes, failure to follow set directions, non-team players, etc ... these are time consuming and difficult to manage at best.

        As I said before when the person has a talent that is related to the task they maybe selected. The areas we are discussing is R & D. Your skills may be more of value in a trouble shooting situation.

        In almost every response on all conversations I read in your profile you mention education as being the problem. If I might suggest, take your talent as a relentless learner to the fight for educational reform. As you say " .... to find a workable solution with a factual foundation, and I will find that solution. I haven't failed yet."

        Good luck. Bob.
        • Jul 30 2012: I did not quit formal education. However, this does not change the fact that education is about giving you a taste of everything my given field encompasses. You are then left to your own devices to pursue your particular interests. Most professionals never move beyond what they are taught in school unless forced to. Those of us who are relentless learners are driven by a need to find answers, knowing that these answers make a difference. Too many professionals, when faced with unanswered questions, simply shrug and say "sorry can't help you." The relentless learner is the one who finds that answer unacceptable and if forced may say apologetically "I'm sorry I can't help you NOW"
          I'm not sure what business you are in Bob, but in any cutting edge business that is involved with R&D (such as technology or medicine) it is the relentless learner who is at work finding the cure for cancer, sometimes spending years even decades on a single pursuit.
          Why must "relentless learning" mean superficial temporary interest, by definition relentless means tenacious, not quitter or flighty?
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          Jul 30 2012: Chanie, on what basis do you claim that "most professionals never move beyond what they are taught in school unless forced to?" This is such a surprisinbg assertion, and so contrary, probably, to what most of us have experienced in the professionals we know, that it would be a service to produce your evidence on the point.
        • Jul 30 2012: Fritzie,
          My response regarding professionals is unfortunately based on experience. In my position I deal with dozens of professionals and there are only a few that I actually recommend.
          (While this did compel me to begin providing workshops for professionals and write so that parents would be educated consumers, I still receive much grumbling pre-events as to why trainings are necessary when what they've been doing has been working well enough. Thank goodness I've never had anyone tell me post-event that it was a waste of their time, but more often I usually have people telling me even years later that they still apply what I've taught.)
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          Jul 31 2012: I would not say that a reluctance to participate in mandatory trainings indicates a lack of interest in learning unless forced. My first hypothesis would be that professionals sometimes balk at having specific trainings imposed upon them by someone in charge rather than being permited to pursue personal development in a self-directed way. My second hypothesis is that these professionals may have too much experience with useless trainings, or rather trainings that meet someones needs, perhaps, but not theirs.
  • Jul 25 2012: Brava! Great distinction to which I agree. Now on to the HOW of the second group since you;re right the first will always find their way.
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    Jul 25 2012: The disposition to learn relentlessly can be cultivated when children are young and is properly a huge part of what schools need to focus on for all students.
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      Gail .

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      Jul 28 2012: I learned the joy of learning in my early 30s - when my worldview crashed and I was forced to properly educate myself in order to come up with a more viable one. I think that joy of learning should be taught in kindergarten, but I have never met a teacher who knows about the joy of learning, so how do we deal with that problem?????

      I'm for changing the entire educational paradigm. Its corrosive effects on our culture is everpresent in everything that we see impacting humanity today.
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        Jul 28 2012: That's sad. Lots of teachers are terrific at inspiring and enhancing joy in learning.
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        Jul 29 2012: Yes, your experience has been different. The paradigm in education today in a large proportion of classrooms is centered around student learning. It is all anyone talks about and all anyone measures to assess how well schools schools seem to be doing.

        I am only mystified why so many people who talk about education today are unaware that the classrooms of the last decade, say, are not the classrooms of fifty years ago.

        This blindness to the changes that have taken over schools and teacher training programs over the last decade or more is itself an interesting cultural phenomenon.
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          Gail .

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          Jul 29 2012: Perhaps because I am so aware of how shallow today's students are and how incapable they are of asking themselves life's more relevant questions. I am PAINFULLY aware of how many allegedly educated people - even up to the PhD level - are functionally uneducated AND THEY DON'T EVN KNOW IT

          I understand that today, students are taught more at an earlier age than I was at that age, but I also understand how much more ill-equipped these students are to face the world that they will enter into. I believe the FACTS that say that education drums creativity and cognitive thinking skills out of students. I see it with my own eyes, and hear it with a whole generation of children who see things in black and white and have no idea how to think conceptually.

          I also understand that and how the current educational paradigm works for the benefit of the economy. I know how lies are taught as truth - especially in American history - and how essential information is withheld because it doesn't not serve the interests of the economy.

          I can take a high school level test in American history and fail it, even though I can produce evidence that says that the required answers are lies. How does that serve my soceity - not to mention me????? What are the tests testing for? The ability to learn by rote. Not for cognitive thinking skills.

          Why are so many allegedly educated people so incredibly ignorant - and unaware of how ignorant they are.

          You can have all the tests that you want, but if they serve anything other than the student in a meaningful way, you are getting skewed results.

          US Dept of Ed says that education is to prepare students for global competition. How cruel! It devalues the students and turns them into commodities and consumers.

          children are people too.
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        Jul 29 2012: I know and have worked with different children, clearly, than the shallow ones with whom you are acquainted and have much greater faith in the potential and thoughtfulness of today's youth. Inquiry-based curriculum and the modern emphasis on critical thinking and application of learning rather than parroting back are partly responsible, There is so much greater emphasis in these areas than there was, say, fifty years ago.

        I do agree with you that people of any level of education often are unaware of what they understand well and what they don't.
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          Gail .

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          Jul 30 2012: I share your faith in the youth of today. However, I would like to see education serve them better. I want to see the paradigm changed to make it possible for a greater number of them to achieve self-awareness. That's all.
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        Jul 30 2012: Gail it is easy, because you write so well to hear the cry of your heart for a better world. We each work in our own way and i work daily to plug in my skills in my preferred area to hopefully reduce a tiny bit of suffering.
        i beleive that every kid is on their way to somewhere- but none of us - espeicailly not them = sometimes knows where that is. Thus, I think that dillitante as someone used it pejoritively (SP?) can be right next to expert just without sufficient hours or a wrong turn can turn them into navel gazers - but I still think navel gazers are on their own road - so I say that I will be a water station on the road of life. Maybe rehydrating them will help. I also know that it takes no intellect or understanding to merely criticize. We have built in negative detectors that opporate with twice the efficiency of our positive detectors. This makes sense if you realize that the negatives might kill us and the positives usually 'only' bring us pleasure. However, with everyone else operating at a 2:1 negative ratio with all others - we have greaat need of a little positive in saving the kids and our world.
  • Jul 25 2012: How about letting them come to you.

    If they are learning so much, they will probably learn about you if you make your presence known, on the WWW and other media. It seems to me it is more important to make sure that whatever you are doing, it is appealing to these relentless learners. Make sure your mission is worthwhile and interesting and challenging and provides endless opportunities for learning. Oh, and of course, pay them well.
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      Jul 27 2012: I completely agree with you Barry. Relentless Learners are energized by learning and will naturally find their way to open sources of knowledge and the chance to put their self-taught skills to use if they so desire. If they are rewarded for their adaptability, then that makes it all the more encouraging for them to take action. Also, we must keep in mind that money is not the only reward that people seek.

      Source: personal experience
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        Gail .

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        Jul 28 2012: I agree. Money is a nice thing to have, but I would prefer to work for more substantial rewards.
  • Aug 6 2012: Relentless learning is a MODE that we can 'toggle' to. i am definitely in that mode. I try to instill in my students or rather pull from them that inner drive to learn, grow, realize and grow. Learning ( exposing yourselves to the idea of others) without realization ( your own ideas) is lop-sided.
  • Jul 31 2012: @Debra Smith - Again, I didn't say they were "not" self-actualizers. I said they are "not necessarily" independent thinkers. Which means they may or may not be self actualizers.

    What's important for creative thought, is the ability to recognize the potential of diverse concepts. People who are not comfortable thinking independently may dismiss (or miss) potential ideas as incongruent or irrelevant.

    Innovation depends more on the quality of thought, than the quantity of information. (and I'm not saying knowledge isn't important)
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    Jul 29 2012: The relentless learner is not a new phenomenon. The renaiscance was filled with men (unfortunately mostly men) who dabbled in many subjects and expanded their learning. If it was not for relentless learners we would not have the Royal Society or Science or Architecture or Design or any field of study as we know it today. The problem today is excessive specialization whereby one cannot be a gentle(wo)man scholar anymore and dabble in many subjects while being rewarded by regular grants and expeditions funding to go off and explore further. Now you have to be a part of an academic institution or corporation or non-profit org or a journalist/author/filmmaker. So if that is the reality then there lies the answer - become a member of a fraternity that still supports learning and research. If that does not work - finance your vision to learn on or or do it part time at night while holding down a job until you get the recognition or good fortune or funding you deserve...
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      Jul 29 2012: Interesting point

      Where do you draw the line between being a generalist and a dilettante?

      The guys from the renaissance were geniuses what about the idea you have to do something 10,000 hours before you are really good at it?

      You draw a line between being co opted and integrity to yourself. But on the other hand PR is the way of the world and perhaps the most useful skill one will acquire? Think Tesla verse Edison.
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        Jul 30 2012: So, is this a theory that no one can be good at many things?
        Further does one remain a dilettante at 9.990 hours and instantly become an expert at 10,000?

        Couldn't it be that we should admit that we are not the expert in another person's developent and allow it to unfold as it should and as it can?
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          Jul 30 2012: Did you see the question mark at the end of the sentence?
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          Jul 30 2012: As ten thousand hours is only a small portion of a lifetime, one can have a working mastery of multiple areas, particularly if they are related. What is key in such learning, whether in the context of a formal institution or fraternity of learners or independent, is that one can also spend 10,000 hours and not gain mastery. The key to effective learning is to assemble first versatile foundational skills in critical thinking, evaluation of evidence, and learning from application. One of the things one can learn as well is how to recognize the holes in ones understanding. Such skills and dispositions protect against relentlessly accumulating information while remaining a dilletante.
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          Jul 31 2012: You sir are a scholar.
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        Jul 30 2012: Of course, I did Pat. I know it as a technique too. I also took note of the direction of the questions.
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          Jul 30 2012: You are right I have been a bad monkey, clearly insidious questions.
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        Jul 30 2012: One of the major joys of a good education is that it provides some important universals such as = when a man tells you who he is - believe him.
        You think my questions are insideous?
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          Jul 31 2012: I don't care...
        • Jul 31 2012: Good answer pat!

          Let's start with this...

          What is the opposite of Love?
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    Jul 29 2012: I think the answer requires a K-20 institutions to build a system that can feed the lifelong learner. One stop shopping for the person that is curious. If there were a system without ads, and with organized content from professionals we could create an atmosphere that fosters innovation.
  • Jul 28 2012: Relentless learning requires more than an insatiable desire to accumulate knowledge. It requires an objective mindset. The ability to synthesize information. Independent learners are not necessarily independent thinkers.

    What I think we need to identify and support is self-actualizers.
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      Jul 28 2012: Is that confrming the defintion for you of having learned, then Gord? I take it that you have defined yourself in the worthy category.
      • Jul 31 2012: Debra, I didn't define myself in my post, and I didn't judge my worthiness. It wasn't about me.

        To state it in a different way... innovative ideas require more than knowledge, they require imagination.
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          Jul 31 2012: I appreciate that clarification and I would suggest that when you do the pros and cons of self actualizers especially when defining others as "not" self actualizers you are doing some major defining.
  • Jul 28 2012: start looking here?
  • Jul 27 2012: Are you searching for 'the founders'? The guys (and gals!) who don't 'think outside the box'. These are the *****ers who built 'the box' folks today are limited to (a cubicle?) Well, some of the 'founders' are still around, and they're funding the creation of today's 'box'. should get you started in the right direction. When you're ready, sometime down the road... Show me your power...
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      Jul 28 2012: This is certainly a passionate response that needs more expression and more clarity. Please add more Qyv Qyv!
      • Jul 29 2012: I've already said too much. I hide in the shadows and nudge when I can., that guy really gets it. Meh, just something I was working on a while back. TeamFSM is the current project.

      • Jul 30 2012: I think I need to find time to go read those 5,000 responses! I'm new to TED.
  • Jul 27 2012: As an insatiable learner I love this question!
  • Comment deleted

    • Jul 27 2012: How?
      In my classroom I can identify who is continuously asking questions within the current system, so how would you change the education system to identify the relentless learner (as this is the focus of the question, for I am in agreement that the educational system would benefit from certain changes)
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        Jul 28 2012: Maybe a better question is how can we get this system to create more relentless learners and to stop creating those who give up learning. Does it start at home, which is the cry of every school teacher or is that simply the same as "not my fault, man!"?
      • Comment deleted

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          Jul 29 2012: Sibin,

          I would have to disagree with you in your first paragraph. The teachers' goal is not to arouse curiosity, it is to teach their students a specific way to think. The teacher will use knowledge and inforation as their medium to do so.

          While this is not the only reason the teacher teachs, it is the biggest part. Now there is of course a good deal of material that needs to be learned, but we must remember that this is secondary.

          With that said the question becomes a little different because we realize that the process of going through school and "learning" independently are two different cases.

          I hope I have articulated that clear enough. If you would like I can give a much more in depth answer.

          And, as a side note, here is another perspective of a student!
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    Jul 26 2012: II would suggest Restless Learner as a more appropriate tag for these screen-heavy times.

    You've identified exactly how to identify these folk in your brief above.

    Support is best served by not boxing them in (or out) with rigid and limited assessment processes. Generally, the sort of people you're referring to are well beyond such measures..
    • Jul 27 2012: I think it would quickly become an overused resume descriptor, like "detail oriented" did. You can easily find such learners by looking at the quantity, quality and variety of discussion groups such a person belongs to.
      Some people belong to a lot of groups but all with a similar agenda, and they aren't there to learn they are there to make everyone listen to their message.
      Some people belong to such varied groups whose discussion have no apparent connection, thus demonstrating broadness as well depth.
      Some people belong to groups whose commonality is obvious but the broadness of the individual's responses demonstrates area expertise.
      (And some people demonstrate that despite an impressive resume they are limited and close minded, not learning at all)