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The website of Mark N. Jones
MUSINGS
On Learning

After having studied Chinese philosophy for nearly 40 years, Iím intrigued by how different their system of learning is. Unlike the Western paradigm, it is non-linear and indirect. Just giving someone an answer to a question does not necessarily ensure that the person is going to really learn the answer. The best way to learn is to figure out the answer for oneself. The teacher should be a guide to help facilitate this process. When one figures out something for oneself, they really know it. Theyíve eliminated all the unnecessary data, like a sculptor carving away all the pieces of the stone that are not necessary, and leaving the essence that was there all along -- the figure. But there is an even greater benefit from this process: a great martial artist and philosopher used to say we should "invest in loss." When we make a mistake, we should say, "thank-you, now I can learn." You canít learn if you never know where you have room to improve. Your ego is the biggest impediment to your learning. Of course the process is never complete, because things are always changing in life, and so must your learning. It must adapt, adjust, and never worry about arriving at any finite "truth." What was right for you 10 or 20 years ago may not be right for you today. James Joyce considered errors to be "the portals of discovery." My teacher used to urge us to keep tenaciously working on exploring problems; to keep trying all kinds of imaginative, different approaches. Learn by trial and error.

Understanding who, what, when, where, and why tells you how.
The four stages of learning are: Believe, Analyze, Do and Prove.
If you cannot do and prove something with action, you do not know it.

He informed us that honest, relentlessly hard work and self-examination will reap rewards. "You might not find the answer you are first looking for, but you will find a thousand other things." I believe that this is the best way to learn. To paraphrase Elie Wiesel, "Every question possesses a power that does not lie in the answer."


While the basketball world - at least everyone outside of Miami, kvetches about Lebron leaving Cleveland, (or not gracing their own town with his considerable skills and considerably greater ego), energy would be better spent looking at another basketball icon who recently passed away - coach John Wooden from UCLA. He allegedly always carried around a piece of paper with a message from his father that stated: "Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day." Or you can choose to get sucked into Lebronís media circus, or for that matter, the idiotic world of commercials, reality TV, awards shows, the latest electronic gadgets, and the petty interchangeable revolving door of Hollywood and Washington gossip... I know which I prefer.