There is something about people who are unwilling to learn that rubs nearly everyone the wrong way. Stubborn. Know-it-all. Pig headed. You know the type.
Is it that person’s over appraisal of their certainty? Is it the proudness of heart that is behind it all? Or is it that this person has concluded that they could never LEARN anything from another, and as such it undermines any contribution others can make?
So what are the ingredients of teachability? Of being a leaner? To start with, I think we need a healthy dose of “I don’t know.” That is not to take away from areas in our life where we have pursued mastery of a subject and where we may in fact be experts, but even the best in a particular field are aware of what they don’t know. So it seems the learners will be those who hold humbly to their knowledge base, while being willing to expand it because they hold humbly their lack of knowledge as well.
This humble disposition immediately keeps a person from extremes. Whether in politics, religion, economics, or sports, the moment we put on a “Team Jersey” we displace a healthy amount of objectivity. From that moment on, it becomes much harder to interpret all the facts without inserting a bias toward your own conclusions. The problem is that one side cannot contain the best representation of all the facts. And facts will be believed or disbelieved through the lens of this bias of certainty. No wonder there is so much polarity in politics, religion, business, and social issues.
Science tries to address this very issue-the scientific method is a tool to observe what happens without including this bias. Social studies are created with blind, double blind and other statistical variables to eliminate this bias.
Also, nearly every world religion speaks on this subject as well. In Buddhism, people relinquish emotional attachments to things to apprehend objectivity. Judaism embraces wisdom which keeps a person from being overly righteous or from being a fool-but to come out from both extremes. And Christianity tells of Jesus mandating that his followers go and “Disciple” the world (disciple is the greek work “Mathetes” which means “Learner”).
Given that every corner of the globe is addressing this pervasive human issue, doesn’t it stand to reason that humanity would have much more progress in this area than it does?
Perhaps there is something much more to not being a learner. Is it a matter of the will, or a matter of skill?
Maybe, the world is convinced that LEARNING is everyone else’s job. All I can say, is that the world really does belong to those who are learners. For everyone else, their certainty is as far as they can go.