Increase Your Learning Capacity

by Haider on December 13, 2008 · 5 comments

in Learning

Our capacity to learn is not determined by our intelligence as much as it is determined but our attitude towards learning and our impression of how much we know.

Oddly enough, the more we think we know, the lower our capacity to learn is.

Why is that the case?

Because when we focus our attention on what we know, we do not seek to acquire new information. This can be especially deadly when we begin assuming that we already know everything about the world and about the topics we commonly read about. We can even assume that we already know what others believe and think that we fully understand their points of view.

We then stop listening, and content ourselves with what we already know, even though we may have misunderstood the beliefs of others, or we can learn more from them.

Advances in science have only been possible by the willingness of scientists to explore further and to reconsider their current understanding of the world.

Learning and The Glass Analogy

When it comes to learning, it is better to see the glass as being half empty than being half full. That way, we will seek to fill the empty half rather than be pleased and contented with the full half.

If we want to learn more, we should never be contented with what we already know.

Sadly, it’s very easy to imagine the cup as being full while overlooking the fact that it is half empty. This is when what we know contributes to our ignorance more than our own ignorance!

How Big Is the Container?

If we truly want to increase our capacity to learn, we must imagine our learning capacity to be a massive container that can be filled with a great deal of knowledge that we have yet to acquire. This will lead us to observe more, become better listeners, ask more questions and be open to take in more information than we would if we think that we already know everything.

“The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.”
C. H. (Charles Haddon) Spurgeon

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bashar December 13, 2008 at 10:11 am

Hmm… first time I read about selecting empty half, but nice concept :)

I like the quotes you bring along your posts. I keep adding them to my library of quotes :)

2 Haider December 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm

I’m glad you liked the post :)

I think I should include a page of quotations, to make it easier for you to update your quotes library… I’ll add that to my features “to-do” list!

3 AbooZaid February 3, 2009 at 7:43 pm

The life raft of a scholar or student of knowledge is “La Adre”

4 Haider February 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm

And by “la adre” you mean: “I don’t know.” English-speakers might assume it’s a French expression ;)

I agree as long as they acknowledge the possibility of learning. Skepticism seems rampant these days, where people deny the possibility of knowing because they doubt the efficacy of the human mind.

5 AbooZaid February 4, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Absolutely, good point Haider. When employed properly, it is not an expression of defeat, rather a reminder of the vast amount of knowledge still to be gained and an admission that despite one’s quest and voracious appetite for knowledge, one cannot conquer it. It is a beautiful paradox that your article reminds me of.

It seems the most knowledgeable people I know truly believe they are not knowledgeable. They don’t just say it out of humility, you can see in their eyes that they mean it. Their standards are so high and their respect for what it means to be knowledgeable is much higher than most.

My take away from this article is that I will try to better walk that line of not belittling myself or my potential in a way that discourages me, but to goad myself by admitting my ignorance in comparison to what is out there for the taking!

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