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  • Len Rempel

Lifelong Learning

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Shortly before my fifth birthday, when it was my time to start school, I was afraid. I’m not sure what I was afraid of but I knew I didn’t want to go to school. What I wanted was to stay home with my mother. It had always been that way so why should it change just because I would soon be five years old.

Eventually my mother was able to convince me to go but I still wasn’t happy. I remember sitting at my desk one day, crying. The teacher called my mother and she came to the school. I happily walked back home with my mother and we spent the rest of the day making cookies. School? Who needs school anyway?

Many years later, as I was nearing the completion of my second university degree, my father commented, “first we couldn’t get you to go to school and then we couldn’t get you to stop.” It has now been more than ten years since my last formal class but I still value education and I still keep learning.

I’m not suggesting that everyone should go onto “higher education” but I do believe we all need to keep learning. I don’t actually remember much of the actual content of the courses I took but the thing that education gave me was a desire to think and explore, to look at ideas I hadn’t heard or considered before. Basically it taught me to grow.

Education can take many forms and each person is different. The important thing is that we continue to learn and grow and never think that we have “arrived” or know everything. Even Paul felt that he was in a process of learning and saw only as a reflection (as the NRSV translates the verse in 1 Corinthians). Learning is a lifelong process.

I think that one of the keys of lifelong learning is humility. That is, not thinking we have everything figured out or know all that we need to know. Humility means accepting that someone else may know something which we do not. Humility also says, “I do not have perfect understanding,” and even “I might be wrong.”

When we are able to say these things, we are in a position to listen and learn. And listening and learning go together. When we speak we only hear what we already know but when we listen we have the potential to learn.

The beginning of September generally means the start of another school year and we see the children starting a new chapter in their learning. This can also be a time when each of us commits to learning something new and growing. You never know, something unexpected and exciting may happen.

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