Learning by Exploring
One way to learn about the world is to explore it yourself. You can do this in many ways, using all of your senses. You can explore near and far, by studying plants in your yard, birds in the park, and clouds in the sky, by looking out your car window and letting what you see inspire questions about geology and biology, about the land and what's growing on it. Exploring is fun at any age. It's interesting and motivating for children, and also for adults who (as non-scientists, amateur scientists, or professional scientists) are continuing their explorations of nature.
Learning from Others
When you explore, you learn from your own experience. But you can also learn from the experience of others, by letting them help you learn. This happens when you read, listen, or watch what they have written, spoken, or filmed. Learning from others is an easy way to learn a lot in a little time.
Learning is an Active Process
Usually, learning is an active process that requires thinking. When you learn by reading, for example, your thinking converts symbols on the page into ideas in your mind. Every time you learn a new idea, you are actively constructing your own mental representations of the idea in a personally meaningful form. And your new idea interacts with your old ideas, as you try to combine the new and old into a coherent system of ideas.
The process of active reading is the theme when Virginia Voeks, in her book On Becoming an Educated Person, explains how to learn more and enjoy more while reading: "Start with an intent to make the very most you can from whatever you read. Treat the author as you do your friends. When talking with a friend, you listen attentively and eagerly. You watch for contributions of value and are sensitive to them. You actively respond to his ideas with ones of your own. Together you build new syntheses." When you're an active reader, eagerly searching for new ideas, you will find them, and reading becomes a stimulating adventure.
You can read passively or you can make it an active adventure. Some of the most effective teaching methods are designed to stimulate thinking, to replace boring passivity with exciting mental activity. For example, members of a class can have a pro-and-con debate about the ideas in a book they are reading. This activity encourages the mentally active reading that is recommended by Voeks. But if you “internalize the action” you can always read with an active mind, whether or not your reading will be followed by an external debate. You control the quality of your learning.