Why We Should Learn Like Kids

Did you know that this coming Saturday is Perpetual Youth Day? While that might conjure up notions of fewer wrinkles and faster metabolism, it’s important to avoid getting hung up on looking young forever. It’s far more important to think a kid. Success in the 21st century job market hinges on being lifelong learners, and there are valuable lessons to be learned from those who are just starting out.

Here are some important ways in which we can think like a kid:

  1. We can admit we don’t know. No matter what our level of expertise and experience, it’s always a good idea to recognize that there’s still more to learn. The term “expert” has lost some of its weight as technology and the job market itself have zoomed along.
  2. We can blur the line between work and play. New ideas can and should be a source of pleasure, instead of a source of stress.
  3. We can learn to cooperate and collaborate. New ideas and new skills often come from others, and learning to play nicely as a partner, or part of a group can bring unique learning opportunities.
  4. We can see learning as something that happens all of the time, in all places, and not just in a classroom or training room.
  5. We can take risks and not be afraid to start over if things aren’t working. Learning is a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s time and space to regroup and try again.

Psychologist Alison Gopnik calls children “The R&D Department” of the human race, marveling at their ability and willingness to explore, discover and experiment. All of us big people would do well to adopt a kid mindset in our lifelong learning practices (even if we do have a few more wrinkles and slower metabolism).

Enjoy your youth (again!), learners!