I have a confession to make. In 2008 on a rainy day, I was sitting in a car. It was the day of my driving test. I had passed the theoretical exam without any mistakes and practiced several months, so I was ready to pass it. But, I didn’t.

I felt really frustrated, like a complete failure.

Because up until then, I was used to passing every test with good grades. I was a good student. My strategy was: two days before the exam, I would memorize everything. The upside? A good grade. The downside? I forgot everything again.

That day in 2008 made me realize: I knew how to get good grades, but I did not know how to learn. I was a good student but not a lifelong learner.

Now, as you can see I recovered from that failure. I even decided to keep on learning, in fact I enjoy learning so much that I made it my mission to inspire others to learn.

Should I learn to code? poster

I have another story for you. I run Master21, a school where we bring digital leaders together to learn 21st century skills, like programming. So I am around people who learn all the time and I observed why and how they learn.

This second story is about one of our teachers, Chanel. Chanel originally did the KV, then transitioned into IT and became a project manager, working with programmers. She was so fascinated by the work of programmers, that she decided to make another career transition and become a software developer.

What I noticed when working with Chanel, or any programmer I’ve worked with is this: When I ask them, do you know how to do X? They might not know it, and what they tell me is: “Let me google this for you.” They are used that the tools they work with, the technology, changes so fast, they are comfortable with not knowing everything. Their key skills is, they know how to find an answer, solve the problem and learn while doing it.

Should I learn to code? poster

So for me, programmers are heros. Not because they know how to program (that is awesome too) but because they know how to learn. Programmers are lifelong learners.

Now let us compare these two stories and differentiate between what makes a good student vs a lifelong learner:

  • Mindset: A good student feels like a failure if they don’t know something vs a lifelong learner knows she can’t know it all
  • HOW to learn: A good student memorizes the facts vs a lifelong learner knows how to find answers
  • WHY to learn: A good student learns because she wants good grades vs a lifelong learner learns to solve problems, to become better, and just because she enjoys the process

Are you a good student or a lifelong learner?

Manifesto for lifelong learning:

  • We know there’s a massive amount of information
  • We are comfortable not knowing it all
  • We know how to find solutions to problems
  • We know learning takes effort
  • We learn because we want to become better
  • We see failure as a learning opportunity

What do you think of the manifesto? It’s work in progress, and I’d love to get your input.