Everyone wants to live a happy life and to feel validated. There is no fast and easy way to reach personal enlightenment, but a great place to start is through education. Of course, education does not stop when you graduate from school!
Making the effort to keep learning will keep your mind sharp, help you focus on the important things in life and keep you in touch with your emotions.
And yet, society has created a framework for education that often fails to consider all of the unique minds in our world. Everyone knows education is important, but we don’t create an inclusive environment to allow people with different experiences and learning patterns to excel.
The likes of Richard Branson and Albert Einstein challenged the system, too
In fact, our traditional Western philosophies of education did not resonate with some of the most successful people in history!
One of the most famous examples is Richard Branson, the famous billionaire and entrepreneur. When he was in school, his headmaster stated that he would either end up ‘in prison or as a millionaire.’
Or how about Alan Turing, the inventor of modern computers and artificial intelligence, who was such a bad student, he almost flunked out of school.
Another great example is Albert Einstein, who said: “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle, that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry”
Many of us were raised and educated in a way that places priority on certain specific skills — skills that not everyone has.
School systems have historically been resistant to the idea of diverse learning styles – because trying to accommodate different learners can be expensive, it can be challenging for teachers to learn new techniques, and because education is an environment where tradition and the status quo reign supreme.
The fact is that cramming for exams and memorizing facts and numbers is extremely challenging for some people, whereas doing literary analysis might be difficult for others. Students get left behind because they aren’t encouraged to embrace and explore how they learn best.
Acknowledging that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach was not the most effective way to foster student development, various educational thinkers have come up with philosophies and strategies to make our education systems as effective as possible.
Although most of these theories were meant to help improve school systems, they can also be applied on an individual level to develop stronger learning habits, which in turn can lead to more productive self-improvement and a happier, more confident lifestyle.
Self-discovery is the most reliable path towards wellness and self-improvement. If we spend time thinking about how we learn best, and how our skills and strengths can help us learn more efficiently our potential can be truly fulfilled.
Own and explore your particular strengths
Howard Gardner was a theorist working from Harvard who introduced a concept called “Multiple Intelligences.” The idea is basically that the traditional notion of IQ is too limited, and can’t accurately describe someone’s individual quirks and experiences. It also means that everyone has individual strengths and can bring something interesting and unique to the table.
Gardner’s theory splits up intelligences into various distinct categories:
- Visual-Spatial: People who learn best by observing things and interacting with their environments. They love exploring new places and visualizing concepts.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic: People who learn best through hands-on activities. They are very in-tune with their bodies and learn by putting them to use. This can include artists, doctors, or even carpenters and tradespeople.
- Musical: This is fairly self-explanatory, but these are people who feel a deep connection to music. That might mean they are musicians, but can also mean that they work best with music in the background, or by thinking of things rhythmically.
- Interpersonal: People who work best by interacting with others. They love to talk through problems, relate to other people’s emotions, and can make great salespeople or valuable team members.
- Intrapersonal: These people are connected to their own thought processes and emotions. They use their own intuition to solve problems, and love reading about and thinking through ideas. They probably keep interesting journals!
- Linguistic: These people use language to solve problems. They are often great writers, and love to learn by reading and analyzing texts.
- Logical-Mathematical: These people are very good at understanding theories, concepts and patterns, and are very good at using reasoning and deduction to solve problems.
By breaking up intelligence into various categories, Gardner opens up the possibility of re-defining what intelligence means.
Take the time to consider which category describes you, and don’t forget that you might fit into several different ones!
For example – somebody that is an amazing, talented athlete but not a great writer is not inherently less intelligent than a mathematics whiz. By owning and exploring your particular strengths, you can build confidence in your abilities which will ultimately lead to greater success in life.
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If for example, you retain information best by working with other people, that might mean that you have strong interpersonal intelligence. Some people find it distracting to work alone, and succeed when they are encouraged to work through problems with their peers and to vocalize their ideas.
Rather than fighting your individual strengths and trying to fit into a box, explore them!
Exploring your learning patterns can also help you process and understand other patterns and behaviours in your life. Emotional intelligence is just as important as more traditional definitions of intelligence, and some thinkers have even argued that it is the most important.
Figuring out which categories of Gardner’s multiple intelligences correspond with you can help you develop emotionally. For example, if you are intrapersonal, meaning you learn best working on your own, individual activities can serve to improve your mental wellness and happiness — things like writing a journal, or going for a long walk on your own.
Developing your emotional intelligence will ultimately allow you to get in touch with yourself and live a happy and fruitful life.
The main takeaway is that everyone is different, and everyone has different ways of understanding and processing the world. Your individuality is a strength, not a weakness. Rather than trying to adapt yourself to conform to what you think you should be, it is much more rewarding to embrace your individuality and take the steps to strengthen the things that make you unique.
Learning never stops, so it’s a great idea to figure out how you can benefit from life’s lessons while honoring the things that make you so special.