Twenty first century and the importance of learning to learn


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The Idea of 'learning how to learn' or rather say 'learning to learn' has gained much important in the twenty first century. Learning is one of the most important and lifelong processes (Mary et al. 2007:3). We are in the world of change and to stay competitive, we need to enhance our skills through learning process. In this essay, I will look at the various learning styles that influence my studies. My understanding of the academic skills and how should I develop the skills by which I can influence by learning style and applying the learning skills to achieve my development plan in near future.

In the knowledge cast, I came across many different types of learning style which helped me understand the importance of learning in this rapid changing world. It is important that to improve your skills you have to get into the habit of learning. Different person have different prospect of learning. It's not necessary that two people have same type of learning style. There were various modules of learning styles that influence the behaviour of a person. According to Honey and Mumford learning style (Cameron 2009, Ron Hale-Evans 2006:57), I took a test (Appendix 1) and found myself to be an Activists and Pragmatists learner. Activist's learner work best when they are new lead discussions and new ideas. They enjoy the challenges which come along their path, which led them to generate new ideas to solve those problems. Activists enjoy more of practical learning compared to the usual learning style of attending lecture. They want to involve themselves in the problem and find the solution. This kind of situation motivates them to learn more about a topic. I would like to share an example of one situation where I enjoyed my work. During my final year project of engineering graduate studies I was enjoying working on my project. I faced lot of unexpected problems and this motivated me to gain in depth knowledge of the basis concepts of engineering. According to the theory Pragmatists learner enjoy working with issues which is more practical oriented. They tend to use their learning in their own way, they don't enjoy following a specific path in problem solving, and they try new things. The other two types of learning style which was mentioned in the theory are Reflectors and Theorists. Reflectors like to listen, gain knowledge about an issue and try to approach problems in much of a methodical way. They tend to do a review and reflect on an issue first and then come to a conclusion. They like to take the decisions on their own. On the other hand Theorists are more of objective thinkers. They have a clear purpose for their learning. They are logical, rational thinkers and they enjoying probing questions. They like to analyse the reasons for a success or failure of an issue.

The next learning style in the knowledge cast which I came across was about Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic Learning Style (Appendix 2). This style uses three main human sensors to determine the best learning style. Visionary learner, they are the learner whose dominant learning is through vision. They tend to learn things in more fast way by seeing and reading. Auditory learner, they are the learner who tend to learn thing in more efficient way by the virtue of Listening and speaking. Tactile learners are the learner who learn thing by touching or doing it. They understand thing in better way by having a go themselves. It involves more of physical experience. After studying the concept I took a test on VAK learning style for determining my dominant learning style. I began the test, there were 20 questions asked and I answered most of A's. So according to the theory (Appendix 2) my dominant learning sensor is Vision. I think that having visionary skill will help me learn till some extent. But I also have to improve my auditory and tactile learning ability. Practically they both play an equal important role in learning. To be more specific there are some things which I can't learn just by seeing it, I have to work around it. For example: - If I want to learn to drive a car, seeing others driving car or listening from others how to drive a car is not going to help me to learn to drive. To drive a car, I need to be tactile learner. So, I think that having mastery in all the three skills will make me a more efficient learner.

To effectively use the different learning styles I developed a personal development plan (PDP). The PDP is based on the Fayol's 5 Elements of Management. In this model the 5 elements are Forecasting and planning a goal, organising, commanding and implementing, coordinating and controlling. The next task was to implement this model in my PDP. I made sure that the objective I planned to achieve are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time defined (SMART). So based on these both theories I put up my main goal in this PDP to become a financial analyst by the end of my MBA term.

My learning process started from the day I arrived in UK, it was new country and all new people. As a part of my personal development plan my first goal in my PDP (Section 1) is to understand the British Corporate culture. This is an important aspect to me as I am doing a Business Management course here, it would help me to understand the working culture and make me aware about style of Business in UK. The learning process for this would require me to work in a local environment. This objective could be achieved by taking a part time job. I was lucky to get a part time job in the university itself. I was assigned a role of student ambassador. My first task as a student ambassador was to help enrol students into the university. Here I met students from different countries but unfortunately could not meet my target of meeting local contact. But this was one of the sources. I also used to read the local newspaper like City A.M, Evening Standard, Metro. The government policies debate of local job cut was much in highlight which helped me in understanding that the local business is totally being professional. My success criteria would be measured on how strong networking I make. Overall this would help me during my internship which is to be done in fourth quadmester.

The second objective I want to achieve is to improve my communication skills. I am being too broad by saying communication skills. But here I consider the skills to improve are my writing skills and speaking skills. I have taken this as my target because I feel nervous while communicating in English with my friends. I feel the same during writing in English. I have started to work with a book called 'Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis'. The first part of this book was to understand my current level of English level. According to the test in this book I was in need to increase my vocabulary. Apart from working on this book I try to implement what I have learnt in this book. I also try to communicate more in English with my friends and house mates. The increase in confidence level during speaking and writing English will be my success criteria. I have kept a target till the end of second quadmestor to increase my vocabulary level.

The next objective for in my PDP is to be familiar with the basic financial terms. I have chosen Global Financial Services as my core module in MBA and having a engineering background in my under-graduates has given me little exposure to the finance field. As I would meet different students with financial background in my MBA, it will be easy for me to cope up with them if I will be familiar with the basis financial terms. For this purpose I am reading a book called 'Corporate Finance by Ross, Westerfield and Jaffe.' This book starts with introduction to the basic of financial terms. Then carry on to the in-depth knowledge of investments. I also use the website to learn the basic. But my target is not only to learn the basis terms of financial but also to know what is going on in the current market. So I also make sure that I read the headlines on once a day. I have kept a target of 30th Jan 2011 to achieve this objective.

Thinking on the edge, I have understood the more efficient way of using learning techniques. I have also come across to the importance of application of learning in day to day life. I also have used some of the learning techniques which I learned from the knowledge cast during preparing my personal development plan. Overall so far I have understood that by implementation of the above learning techniques will critically help me to improve my skills to make me a better learner.

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