How To Learn
Secrets of being a more efficient learner
“Throw out your conceited opinions, for it is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows.” — Epictetus, Discourses, 2.17.1
One of the things that frustrated Epictetus about philosophy students — and has frustrated all college professors since time began — is how students claim to want to be taught but really secretly believe they already know everything.
The reality is that we’re all guilty of thinking we know it all, and we’d all learn more if we could set that attitude aside. As smart or successful as we may be, there is always someone who is smarter, more successful, and wiser than us. Emerson put it well: “every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.”
If you want to learn, if you want to improve your life, seeking out teachers, philosophers, and great books is a good start. But this approach will only be effective if you’re humble and ready to let go of opinions you already have. — Daily Stoic, pg. 113
This is a fantastically pertinent topic in our world today. We are all seeking to learn and become the best, but so many of the questions asked today are loaded with a resistant nature to the answer. It is silly to me — but we all do this — that we would ask a question we didn’t really want the answer to.
Or that we might seek out an expert's opinion just to write off their advice because we have our own preconceived notions.
This fully applies to the method of learning as well, we need to shed any of the ideas that we only learn a certain way, it’s not just through school and a professor, or just books or just a video that we are able to learn, rather we need to humble ourselves in the sense of being willing to step into the unknown.