Rediscovering the Learner Within

seaWhat’s the biggest obstacle to learning tech? Access? Training? Age?

Excuses abound.”I’m too old,” “Kids are born knowing this now; how can I compete?” “It keeps changing all the time,” or the big trump card:  “I don’t have time to deal with all that.” People rarely name the problem that research says is the biggest obstacle: Mindset.

People who want to learn something, who are determined to learn it, make it happen. Students who decide they are mastering a task find tutors, spend extra time working, and keep at it until they succeed. We cheer for the unathletic friend who decides to train for a 5k, or the person who decides to challenge herself to do something out of her previous experience. We know that people who decide to master a skill can at least become more proficient than they were by readjusting their mindset and committing to overcoming obstacles.

The mindset that says, “This is interesting, and I can learn it,” is the way “digital natives” seem to approach technology. They are comfortable reframing themselves as learners, and they trust that they will be able to understand and use whatever evolutions technology goes through.

If that mindset is the crucial component to learning, how can we show our collegues, friends and family the value in learning to use technology? What uses would benefit them enough that they choose to be learners?

And maybe more important for teachers, are we still learners as well as teachers? The idea that children are digital natives ignores the fact that they have had to learn how to use technology–and the nature of the beast insures that they will be relearning it all their lives. Tech skills aren’t static, so a person has never finished learning to use technology.  Perhaps teachers become secure in their knowledge, certain of what they know and the students need to learn. When teachers’ tech skills lag, is it that deep down, they are uncomfortable when they know they are not competent?

The main task, then, is develop the desire to be tech-savvy, to define yourself as a tech-competent-learner, then dive deep to see what mysteries await!

What can happen if people believe they can learn and create? The story of William Kankwamba answers that question.


Interested in reading an academic paper about the importance of mindset? Look for “The Potential Role of Mindsets in Unleashing Employee Engagement” by Lauren A. Keating and Peter A. Heslin in the Human Resource Management Review, 25 (2015) 329-341. It’s in the Infohio/Ebsco database.

Leave a Reply