Continuous learning and exposure to theories, philosophies, concepts, practices, and ideas is to me the most important contributor to creative thinking, and creativity in general. So, how do you learn? What, for instance, is your go to source? For me, my favorite source of learning has always been reading. I like to take in information, and then develop my own thinking about what it all means. Recently though, I realized that my reading had become highly inconsistent. I mean, I was still reading regularly, but it wasn’t to expand my mind, it was primarily for entertainment. Now there’s nothing wrong with reading for entertainment. But if you’re trying to learn something, that sort of reading is not going to get it done.
Falling into a rut
Up until a couple of months ago, I realized that I’d become more of a consumer rather than a learner. I blame the incredibly easy access to information available today for this shift. It’s so easy to pick up my tablet or turn on the tv, and access all sorts of stuff – articles, videos, whatever. There’s so much out there, and to be honest, some of it is educational. But so much more of it seems focused on selling something. Either to me or me as the product. This underlying reality of commerce masquerading as knowledge has become so ingrained, I find myself struggling to believe the truthfulness or motivation behind what I’m consuming. I’m going to single out YouTube as my leading example. I still watch, but now mostly for entertainment only. Another source are podcasts. But, thankfully, I find them more reliable, and for some reason easier to weed out the bad ones.
So, what do I do when I really want to learn? Well, I’ve gone completely old school. In the past few months, I’ve rediscovered my local library. What I find there just feels so much more reliable. I’m fortunate in that Denver, my city, has a great library system. There’s access to a vast amount of knowledge in a huge variety of media. And unlike subscription learning platforms like MasterClass and Skillshare, I already pay for it. I’ve learned how to use both the traditional and electronic catalogues as well as how to create lists of what I’d like to read next. Most recently, I found out that my library membership includes free access to Kanopy, a streaming service that is available on a variety of electronic devices. Who knew? Maybe you did. I wish you would have told me.
If, like me, you’re looking to learn but fell into the same habits as I did, do yourself a favor a check in with your own library. You might be surprised. And even better, you might find just the creative spark you’ve been looking for.