liz Tuohy

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What if learning, rigorous learning, was a part of everyday life? How would it change us, our communities, our countries, the world?

When was the last time you "had to know" something? Does learning something require at its conclusion a test? In living life, with no requirements to learn, how many people today learn something new and difficult everyday? I'm suggesting that without the need to learn something new and difficult everyday, our minds become less able to process, and this in itself leads to becoming unaware. When this is a common descriptor of populations, its effects on world health in every area are devastating.

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    May 16 2011: There was a time in my life when being was limited to watching tv and going shopping. It's hard to admit this out loud. As I awakened again, and reading was again more engaging than watching movies and tv, I began to create more, dream more, understand in more depth and have ambition. Soon after that I went back to school (I like formal learning as well) and started a journey to another career - something I avoided for quite a while. What I found was that I had stopped vigorous learning and beginning it again was hard.

    The rewards, as Alan and Kevin relate, are many, not only for me personally, but for those around me. My interest and comprehension of national and international affairs became deeper and more empathetic. I find I am more engaged in finding solutions than waving my fist in anger.

    I wish for those, like Jafia, a positive experience in the rigors of learning, It sounds like it wasn't fulfilling for her. As a past educator, I am saddened that learning wasn't a lifelong goal for her and I cast some responsibility for this on systems of mass education. However, we all can throw off the negatives of learning in our pasts and create more positive experiences in learning that best fit us. I encourage you, Jafia, to explore it again. Rigorous learning is not an excess in life. It is a requirement for thoughtful citizens of the world.
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        May 16 2011: Jafia, I feel enriched that you share your language abilities with us here on TED. Without your efforts to learn other languages we would not have the privelege of your ideas and the ideas of others around the world who have made such an effort and become so proficient. Most of us are unilingual or bilingual at best and so we are the iliterate ones in comparision.
  • Jul 12 2011: Humbly...
    Rigorous daily learning and rigorous daily self-examination must go hand-in-hand.

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    May 16 2011: Zdenek expresses much of what I feel about learning. I guess if we look at the definition of rigorous in the strictest sense, it can seem like a negative way to acquire knowledge. I'd like to suggest another way of looking at the word "rigorous". Learning that creates a sweat. Learning that requires effort, conciseness, reliability, replicability, and that is shared by large groups in order to go forward and engage in high levels of discussions for the purpose of solving problems, learning about others and ourselves, being full citizens of the world.

    I don't doubt that many people learn everyday. The very act of learning another language requires "rigor". But without this perspiration of our brains, we do not exercise it properly. It does not gain in capacity without strenuous work. Brain studies prove this out. In fact, it is quite possible that those in their later years in life who stop using their brains fully, lose the ability to use it proficiently. We may see more brain studies done on baby boomers, a generation known to push the boundaries of age, with respect to the "use it or lose it" belief.

    Imagine if we all, generally, learned new things, difficult things, on a regular basis. Wouldn't that change how people perceived just about everything.
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    May 16 2011: I find that TED meets this need in me at this point in my life. I love to learn. I hope every day for a new TED talk and I watch and rate everyone and some of the TEDx talks. Its like my morning vitamin. TED conversations reprises the part I loved best in post grad education- Blackboard questions and discussions. I think they are the best way to learn for me.
  • May 16 2011: I am not sure if we need "rigorous" learning but I agree on all points that you mentioned. I consider learning and education the most important aspect of our society and only through education can we achieve more equal societies with fair democracy systems.

    I see two trends in the world today. On one hand we see media feeding through TV and the Internet people with stereotypes, limited thinking and low quality entertainment with no or little education value.

    On other hand, the Internet created a huge opportunity for masses to learn new things, become creative through their blogs and own media, exchange information and learn new things from speeches at TED and elsewhere. People also participate in more open source projects than ever before and compete on many levels including Google's Moon race competition.

    I also see that more people than ever are forced to learn something new frequently because of their ever changing jobs. This applies mostly to office jobs and any job that requires the use of computer.

    I think that it is important to realize that we need quality over quantity. I would rather if everyone learns more about history, politics, philosophy, ethics and psychology than anything else. Human communication and understanding of morality is still fairly lacking in my experience. =)
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    May 15 2011: it would certainly change the quality at which we absorb information and make decisions based off of that information. Meaning we would be become a more analytical and better decision makers.

    I have to learn something new every day to keep up on my industry. And what I learn is usually applied shortly after. So how I absorb, analyze and implement what I learn has an immediate affect on the work I do. And because of this, I have become a better decision maker and member of society.
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    May 15 2011: Rigorous learning should be encouraged as a daily habit. Rigorous learning requires a study of the facts. Result you become better informed. Rigorous learning can be a deep study of a subject or an open, naturally inquisitive mind.

    Learning does not have to be formally tested. Learners, however, should be encouraged to share what they have learned with others since, through discussion of others points of views a deeper learning may be achieved.

    The societal effects of more people rigorously learning and sharing what they have learned with naturally inquisitive audiences helps us all to understand our world and each other in it. This can only be positive since this moves society away from being closed-minded, low in empathy and basing judgement on opinions without facts.
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      May 15 2011: Hi Alan,
      I couldn't agree more with you statement "rigorous learning should be encouraged as a daily habit."