THE history of our nation spanned across centuries and it experienced various critical transformations.
Priceless lessons were derived, but unfortunately they were mostly from historical and historiographical approaches and not from community experiences, behaviour, organizational and socio-technical perspectives.
We tend to associate learning strongly with formal education.
However, much of our lives involve dynamic, social, practical, and sometimes unanticipated experiences.
In our country, rote approach towards learning remained the dominant mode of education.
Rote learning is useful in attaining information but did not enable learners to be analytical and to leverage the information for practical application.
Real life application of learning is only limited to the occasional industrial internship that a student undergoes to obtain industry experience before they graduate from universities.
In schools, students receive knowledge inputs from concepts and theories taught to them and use the knowledge to solve theory-based problems but not in real life applications.
Eventually, learning becomes a desired accolade instead of a life-long process that incorporates observation, analysis, synthesis, and real-life application through various channels and processes.
The diverse ways of learning are mostly boxed into a limited worldview.
The culture of learning requires a paradigm shift.
Learning needs to be dynamic, flexible, and diversified.
It needs to be able to empower nation building and form practical solutions to real-life problems.
It needs to be able to give freedom for the learner to explore the world and the facets of life.
This will be difficult if society is indifferent to our learning culture.
Limiting the learning process to a formal education setting not only builds a culture of restrained thinking and limited foresight, but also may inadvertently encourage elitism and sheer ignorance.
This is further imperiled by unnecessary sensitivities surrounding such issues that potentially hinders progress for the nation.
In some industries, the loss of interest in learning consequently causes heritage loss.
Learning should be able to transform nations.
Learning should lead to a better outlook on life and strengthen civilization, ethics and morality.
Learning can influence narrow perceptions and mentality into positive ones.
The learning structure in institutions should allow more life-based problem-solving and incorporate the different ways that knowledge can be acquired from, and its different forms.
Learning culture beyond institutions should be encouraged to cultivate elements of life-long learning.
Learning must be structured in a way that equips people with the ability to apply knowledge.
The ability to apply knowledge in real-life settings indicate the effectiveness of the acquired knowledge and the learning process involved.
This ability showed that the learner understood what they have learnt.
Without an improved mindset and learning culture, problem solving is an even bigger challenge.
In 2005, Steve Jobs described his curiosity and intuition-guided experience to drop out of college to pursue his interests.
He ended up enrolling in a calligraphy class which enabled him to create beautiful typography when Apple designed its first Mac computer.
This does not mean that students need to drop out of college to achieve success.
It just means that effective learning can help people connect the dots and find a real-life method of utilization.
Jobs connected the dots using his life lessons to solve real life problems.
Learning leads to knowledge, and applied knowledge is a validation of learning.
Learning achievements are not necessarily measured by by going to universities.
When the essence of society is learning, many opportunities will open.
Learning opportunities could be as complex as science and engineering or as simple and artistic as khat and calligraphy.
The writer is associate professor and deputy director, Institut Sultan Iskandar, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia