Attitude of Learning

To have an “attitude of learning” is the foundation of all learning and studying.

In most homes and school environments, we do not get the chance to be taught an “attitude of learning”, so usually it depends on ourselves.

This “attitude of learning” can often be compared to an example of a “bowl.”

When water is poured into a bowl that already has a crack at the bottom, no matter how much water is poured in, the water will continue to leak out of it. Most of us, except someone who has developed in a specialized environment, have some cracks in our bowls. To stop the water from leaking out of the bowl, first we must seal up the crack in the bowl and then pour water into it. This is an example that relates to the “attitude of learning.”

Additionally, to pour new water into the bowl which is already filled with old water is not possible. In order to pour fresh new water into the bowl, we need to discard the old water first. Our past experiences and knowledge sometimes restrict the process of learning new things. By setting aside one’s own opinions and past knowledge, new things can be obtained and learned.

In a small size bowl, we can only pour a small amount of water. In a bigger size bowl, we can pour more water. To use the example of “the bowl” to apply to human beings, we can grow our “bowl” infinitely larger with willpower and effort. This also refers back to the “attitude of learning.”

Here is an example I would like to share.

The very first thing I learned while I was an Uchideshi, was the “attitude of learning.” Shortly after becoming Uchideshi, I was given the opportunity to accompany Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei giving a lecture. I thought I had succeeded and done very well with this “Otomo” task.

A few days later, there was a request from an elementary school for an instructor to conduct a seminar. Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei told me that I should be the one to go and conduct the seminar. I told him that I would not be able to do it as I have had no experience teaching at seminars, his reply was, “What are you talking about? I showed you how to do it the other day.”

I finally realized that my own “attitude of learning” was wrong. I wanted to be an instructor, however on that day, I did not watch him and observe carefully for myself from the position of the one giving the lecture. I was lacking the view of “If I were him this is how I would do it.”

Since then, I started to be aware and observe the whole lecture, where to stand, the posture, where to face, where to look and direct attention with the eyes, the speed, the pause, the sequence of the talk, the volume of voice, how to respond to questions and all the other small details.

If I did not realize the “attitude of learning” at that time, I would not learn much from the hundreds of chances of being “Otomo” afterwards. From that experience onwards, I always teach this “attitude of learning” at the very beginning, especially to children and school students.

So what do all of you think about your own “attitude of learning”?