In school I seemed to always struggle to get work done. I was able to get good grades through all of my schooling but it took a tremendous amount of effort. I always felt as though there had to be a better way. Way back then you either learned or you didn’t. There wasn’t a great deal of identified special needs and I went to Catholic School – no one ever got identified with needs there and looking back I can think of several who should have been.
Even now I probably would have fallen through the cracks because I was still able to get good grades, an excellent SAT score, and do well in college. But as I get older I am far more aware of my limitations. Some of it may have to do with getting older but I am also more aware of what works. Technology has made my world so much more easy.
There is also no doubt in my mind that I would be considered ADHD – back then and even probably now. I have a difficult time focusing and definitely struggle to stay focused. I have to be multitasking a handful of things at the same time in order to not be freaking out. If I try doing one thing at a time my head spends the whole time telling me – let’s get this done already; you’re wasting time; get moving…
So here is what my half a century of learning has taught me…
- I love to read and can pretty much absorb just about anything I read. I can read biographies, fiction, non-fiction and most anything else and read it, dissect it, enjoy it and relax with it. Legal journals are no different. There is a great deal of mumbo jumbo but for the most part I can work my way through those with little difficulty.
- Listening to books, music etc… These are relaxing but not a great way for me to learn. I listen to books on Audible every day on the way to and from work. The problem is I start 25 books before I find ONE that can catch my interest right away enough for me to really focus and pay attention. Focus is HUGE. I don’t have a great ability to focus.
- Colors – I learn with colors and the brighter the better. That doesn’t necessarily mean I like bright colors but I can see things more clearly with bright colors. I can see numbers and words, pictures, events, people, chores, tasks etc… This one is very difficult to explain but if something I can’t focus on is tied to a bright color or multiple bright colors – I see it clear as day. My brain spends a great deal of time transitioning information to color.
- I cannot read or follow written instructions to save my soul. Just can’t do it. For example if I am crocheting and someone gives me a pattern – nope. The letters and numbers all start swirling in all different directions and I can’t pull them back and view them in their original position. If someone hands me instructions I will put them aside and ignore them. When I first got married I decided I wanted to build picnic tables. Well I bought instructions – Lord knows why. In the end I never looked at the instructions and I just did it. I built a shed that way; learned to sew that way etc… This is a huge barrier when I have a review item with written instructions. I simply cannot do it. I have to hand them to one of my daughters and I literally say – what does this say. The numbers and letters don’t even stay in place and make no sense. When it comes to situations like this I rely heavily on YouTube and when I receive a product with instructions and can’t find a YouTube video I am very disappointed.
- Videos – this is the best way I learn (or in person with visuals). The videos can be with animation, slides, or even live. Because I learn with colors this is the absolute best way to make the impression last and allow for the best learning experience.
- Writing – I can also learn by writing and re-writing. This process definitely involves color. I will not remember it at all if it is all written with a black ballpoint pen. But if I write paragraphs in different colors then I can remember it. I don’t do highlighting – although that is color it can be extremely distracting. I may as well take a black Sharpie marker and cover the words – it is that distracting. Like I can’t even see through the highlighter.
I have spent a great deal of time trying to learn – how I learn and don’t learn. If I only knew this decades ago school may have been easier. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that takes decades to figure out!
What do you know about your ability to learn?