5 Characteristics That Impede Learning
by Ronda Sturgill
While working on my M.A. in Adult Education, I was happy to come across the following quote about intelligence:
“Intelligence results as much from how people learn to cope with the world around them as it does from the internal mental processes with which they were born.”
Yes! There is hope for me! However, this notion of coping is often impeded by several characteristics, many of which I, myself, have exhibited. Through teaching and leading Bible studies, I’ve witnessed these characteristics in others as well. Here is a list of the five most common characteristics that impede learning, along with descriptions of each.
By far the number one characteristic that impedes learning in adult women is spreading oneself too thin. Women today don’t know how to say “no.” They want to have it all and do it all – all at the same time. They are moms to young children, they volunteer at their children’s school, they lead the children’s ministry at church, they lead home Bible studies in the evening along with their husbands, they commit to serving on the women’s ministry team…and then they decide to get a part-time job to supplement income. It proves very difficult to focus on learning when your life is full of multiple other commitments.
The second characteristic I often see that impedes learning is engaging in activities that
require the use of abilities that are not our strengths. Because women cannot say no, we
quickly jump in to meet any need that arises, giving little thought as to whether or not we
have the ability to do what is required of us. Eventually, we begin to realize we might be
in the wrong place, so we quit, often feeling like a failure. This has a huge impact on our
learning because of the internal anxiety it produces.
Distractibility and lack of concentration are issues I observe all the time. In a world of
rapidly flowing information via electronic gadgets, it is difficult today to even hold
a conversation with someone without being interrupted. I have observed that many
younger women, in particular, lack the ability to concentrate on anything for extended
periods of time. As their teachers, if we are going to keep their attention, the first thing
that we must eliminate is the 45-minute lecture.
The inability or unwillingness to see the forest for the trees seems to impede learning in
many of us. We tend to be so focused on the events of the day that we fail to look at the
big picture to learn what God might be teaching us. We get bogged down with the here
and now, and fail to look ahead.
Too little self-confidence impedes learning in many of us. We’re not really sure about
this ‘thinking differently’ stuff! We’re afraid to step too far out of our comfort zone
for fear we’ll make a mistake or do something wrong. It is much safer to stay right
where we are. As a teacher, I try to be patient and realize that we all learn by taking baby
steps. Praise for taking baby steps gives people the confidence they need to take another,
and then another.
Do you see yourself anywhere in this list? My friend, you were born to learn. You were
born to experience life to its fullest. I want to challenge you to make a change in your lifestyle that will put you in a better position to learn. Once you do, I think you will like the new you!