Mama Graca Machel’s tips on Lifelong Learning
Growing up, I could almost count (on one hand) the number of times my elders admitted that they still had a lot to learn. In a world where education had been scripted to fit a certain timeline, it often felt that learning could only be attained at a certain place and time. Yet, as I listened to H.E Graca Machel speak last Friday at the ALX hub in Nairobi, I was surprised to hear her admit that she believes there is still a lot for her to learn.
As an advocate for women and children’s rights and former first lady of South Africa and Mozambique, Graca Machel has had a wealth of experience. Despite this, she still humbly acknowledges her realization that unless she keeps learning, she is bound to “become more and more inadequate” in the environment she is living in. I believe that as the world changes and technology transforms how we work and interact, many of us can relate with the realisation that learning can never stop.
As our Founder and CEO, Fred Swaniker likes to state, “learning is ultimately a lifelong journey!”. In her conversation, Mam’ Graca shared three important tips that she believes will help us successfully pursue lifelong learning.
- Acknowledge that you haven’t arrived
It’s often not easy to admit what you don’t know, especially in front of others. Yet, as Mam’ Graca Machel humbly acknowledges that she still has a lot to learn, I realized that perhaps the first step in lifelong learning is admitting that you don’t know everything!
Adopting a beginner’s mindset erases any preconceptions or blind spots that may hinder you from learning new things. We sometimes have a fixed view of where we want to go and how we want to get there. However, acknowledging that you haven’t quite arrived and being open to alternatives makes the journey more enriching and exciting.
- Understand that learning happens daily
Traditionally, learning has been restricted to classrooms, and knowledge is primarily obtained from a small group of individuals with certain qualifications. However, as mam’ Graca Machel spoke of how she learns through reading and interacting with diverse groups of people, I noticed that the best lessons are learnt through everyday interactions.
It could be a conversation with a stranger that opens you to a new opportunity, or perhaps an online article that inspires you. In understanding this, you are then able to treat each experience as an opportunity to learn.
- Be constantly curious
For over 10 ten years, mam’ Graca has worked hard to empower young people, providing financial support and mentorship. She firmly believes that to be able to effectively empower young people, she has to be curious as to what the world today looks like for young people.
When you have a lot of experience in certain things, it often doesn’t make sense to explore new options. But as Lovelle Drachman once quoted, “the future belongs to the curious”. Having a quest for learning and uncovering new things is the ultimate foundation for growth.
Bringing it all together
As Mama Graca admits, you are never too old or too wise to stop learning. Adopting a learner’s mindset is the key to successful lifelong learning. So whether its a new course online or attending an ALX Masterclass; challenge yourself today to learn something new and keep yourself updated.
About the Writer: Hope Mutua is currently interning here at ALX with the marketing department. Passionate about telling stories that bring impact, Hope is also a student at the African Leadership University.