Ask the critical question and learn

Good old Internet is here to cater to virtually any need and to offer countless possibilities for the user. Learning has been among the many processes that the global system of networks has facilitated due to the availability of resources, online courses, webinars, how to sites and videos to name but a few. Expectations are placed on children and adults alike to amass knowledge and everyone is joining the new wave of learning whether for personal, professional or social purposes.

Motivation to learn runs high among the highly ambitious and the inquisitive. Just as well, a change in the status quo, a new challenge, a term paper still due, a new position opening up, an upcoming trip abroad, a speech to deliver will prompt anyone to start the learning process.

Access to information does not guarantee that you will learn everything immediately and without an effort. In fact, it is the very nature of the Internet and of the other modern day conveniences that may frustrate even the most ambitious learner. Where does one start? How does one plough through the mass of information? How do I focus? A starting point to anything you want to learn is to examine where something is coming from and how it could be best approached.

To get the most out of learning, to save yourself valuable time online or elsewhere for that matter and to be able to sift through all the distractions and the irrelevancies, all you have to do is ask that critical question so that you can find the facts and examine your sources. By adopting a responsible route to learning, one which you will be in control of, you develop a better understanding of the world around you.

The question is a compass

Asking an open question gives you a sense of direction. It forms a path along which you can walk back and forth so as to find the sources and ultimately the answers you seek. These are indeed the simplest but also the most crucial questions; who, what, where, when and most importantly, why? Suppose you are taking an interest in history and you want to study a certain period or event. Rather than think about it in terms of a historical issue you need to study, convert it into a question that you seek the answer to. The question, ‘What was life like in New York City in the 70s?’ will enable you to focus only on that period of time and on the given circumstances.

Find as many sources as you can

Get different perspectives by using more than one source. Read what historians (scientists, experts, journalists, professionals) have said but also read or listen to the accounts of everyday people. How were their descriptions different? Compare and contrast their different points of view. Closely examine pictures, objects or any other artifacts and see what their main characteristics were. Compare the past to the present. Listen to recorded documents of any sort and record the similarities or differences. The more you question your sources and more details will come to light.

The process helps you to make your own interpretations. Think about how the newly acquired knowledge could be of use in your own everyday life. Whether you want to stay informed, to study, to develop skills or to cultivate your mind, learning begins the moment you pose that question that you want the answers to.

Author's Bio: 

A life-long learner and teacher of foreign languages. I conduct creative language teaching workshops, travel for inspiration and write e-books and school plays. I blog at about teaching, self- learning and the benefits of joint activities.