Posted by: ritagone | May 15, 2013

Acquiring Knowledge


I’m always looking for interesting articles that can help me learn something new.

Recently I found a fascinating piece entitled “14 Ways to Acquire Knowledge,” and I can’t resist: I want to share some of the interesting points of this article with you.  It comes from a link I get every Sunday morning via email called “Brain Pickings,” and in this site are all sorts of informative, helpful tidbits – some funny, some serious – about how the human mind works.  There are articles by famous people, mainly writers and scientists, about ways to process information, how to write, how to live life more fully.  There are scientific studies that are being conducted or have been in the past that illuminate how the human mind works or breaks down.  All of it is useful information for someone whose main Strength in the StrengthsFinders testing is INPUT.  Gathering information for me is a delight, and Brain Pickings helps me along.  So one day I get this article and know instantly that it is meant to be shared with you, dear reader.

So here’s their list of 14 ways to acquire knowledge.  I will gloss over them quickly, and if you so desire, you can go to Brain and research this more intensely for yourself.

First, PRACTICE.  Do the things you already know how to do, and keep doing them so that you don’t lose the skill they require.  If you play the piano, for example, don’t stop playing.  Practice a little bit as often as you can.  Play a new piece.  In this way, you will acquire new information about something you are already versed in.

Second, ASK.  “Every person possessing knowledge is more than willing to communicate what he knows to any serious, sincere person who asks.”  When you ask, you are admitting you don’t know, and that humility goes a long way toward getting you answers and increasing your knowledge.

Third, DESIRE.  “You never learn much until you really want to learn.”  Saying you want to discover how to do things or how things work is not the same as actually digging in and finding out the truths of things by getting your hands and minds involved.

Fourth, GET IT FROM YOURSELF.  You don’t know how much knowledge you actually have hidden away because it’s not brought to the surface of your mind, so once you start mining it, you’ll discover just how much you actually know.  Use this information and you will be surprised what’s there below!

Fifth, WALK AROUND IT.  To know something better, see it from all angles.  How many sides does it have?  What are the details that you can only see from a particular place?  Inquiring minds will dig in and move around.  Don’t be still when you’re trying to learn; mobility is your friend.

Sixth, EXPERIMENT.  Try something new; see what happens.  The best experiments are done solo, being careful to explore on your own with great detail and insight.

Seventh, TEACH.  In the very act of teaching, you will learn much more than your best pupil.

Eighth, READ.  What you read is important, but not all important.   How you read is the main consideration.  The secret to good reading is this: read critically.

Ninth, WRITE.  To know it – write it!  It is the best aid to storing things in your memory.  You know what you know once you have written it down!

Tenth, LISTEN.  Pay attention when someone else is talking.  “Of all the ways to acquire knowledge, this way requires least effort on your part.”  “It’s easy, it’s surefire.”  Unfortunately, most people are not very good at it.

Eleventh, OBSERVE.  Keep your eyes open, see what’s happening around you, both good and bad, so that you can learn from it all.

Twelfth, PUT IN ORDER.  “The only good knowledge is orderly knowledge!”  Put the information that comes into your head and the thoughts in order so that you can effectively use it.

Thirteenth, DEFINE.  Be able to broadly tell what a thing is, and what it is not.  A chair can be any number of things (i.e., a kitchen chair, a high chair, an electric chair), but it isn’t something else (i.e., a stool, a sofa).  Be sure you can clearly define your terms.

Fourteenth, REASON.  Animals have knowledge, but only men can reason.  The better you can reason, the farther you separate yourself from the animals.  The process by which you reason is called logic.  Logic is knowledge in its highest form.

And there you have it: an easy guide to knowledge, fourteen key steps to gaining knowledge that you didn’t know before.  I have found this to be a useful guide when I want to understand how something works, or how to attain a higher level of insight into something than I had before.

See if it works for you.

Start applying these fourteen steps to knowledge and see if they don’t make you a more knowledgeable person.  At the very least, they’ll broaden your perspective of life, and that’s always a good thing.

And don’t forget to throw in a great deal of hands-on study of God’s Word while you’re at it.  After all, the book of Proverbs (1:7) tells us that the beginning of knowledge starts with the fear and awe of the Lord.

Can I get a wise “amen” to that?

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