Receptivity…in learning

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According to my quick Google search; the word receptivity is actually a noun.  Basically, receptivity is having the quality of being receptive.  If you are receptive to learning, you are willing or inclined to receive suggestions, new ideas, or new knowledge favorably. Receptivity as I define it is simply; wanting to learn. I have had many times in my life where I was more receptive to learning than others. I have always been more receptive to learning than not over the length of my lifetime. Some subjects I was more inclined to learn than others. Honestly, I just don’t think I will ever be very receptive to learning algebra.  I have always been receptive to learning anything artistic. It’s been a long time since I studied psychology and human development but I seem to remember life stages where learning is easier.  It is very easy to see these stages in a child as they learn to crawl, walk and run.  It is also easy to agree that school aged children generally have a voracious appetite to learn.
I can easily see in my own past the times of great receptivity to learning.  When I gave birth to Holly; I underwent a great desire to learn.  Of course, I read “What to Expect when you’re expecting” cover to cover.  Marty and I took Lamaze classes for six weeks, watching videos and reading books.  This major life change released a great desire to learn.  I finally felt passionate about my direction in life and felt God released a sense of purpose.  Once I realized that being a nurse was exactly what I wanted to be; I was consumed with that one goal.  I quickly signed up for a nursing assistant course, putting my all into everything I did.  This passion sustained me through the ups and downs of learning.  I did graduate with an associate degree in nursing.
The goal to be a nurse was a great one but in hindsight, the obsession to be the best in my nursing class almost cost me my marriage.  I felt the need to get perfect grades consume all my time and energy.  Luckily, I have a wonderful husband that pulled me back from the trap of perfectionism and he helped me to see with perspective that great grades did not define who I was. It took me awhile to see that all nurses were equal in comparison once they had the RN behind their name and what truly mattered was experience. A degree is a place to start and once you have the piece of paper, no one cares if you were 1st in the class or last.  As my youngest daughter says, “C’s get degrees!”  and I caution her to remember that you have to get into the particular “school” of learning at college first. But I do tell her that her grades are not as important to me as her learning the subject.  I took many classes over the years where I got an A and now I couldn’t tell you what I learned.  I don’t think grades really evaluate actual learning very well but that is for a different blog entry.
There is nothing quite like a financial need to encourage one to learn. As I started the photography studio; the need to learn quickly was really prompted by a need to pay the bills. I didn’t want to be a failure as a business owner. I spent a lot of my time learning by trial and error. My ability to learn Photoshop editing was much better than my ability to learn how to set my camera’s manual settings. I shot my images in camera RAW and that gave me the ability to manipulate the images. I often made exposure mistakes but I would fix them later in Photoshop. After a few years (yes, years!) of being sloppy with my exposure settings; I dedicated myself to really learning the triad of exposure, ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Don’t ask me to explain it all but I finally understand how to set them properly. After making many mistakes in printing and framing; I learned how to frame with precision. The process of selling was always a challenge for me. I understood and loved marketing but actually closing the deal during a sales meeting was difficult. My husband was a wonderful mentor to me during this time in my life because he is so knowledgeable about sales and business. We would talk everyday about what I did and he would advise me on how to improve. He was my biggest supporter and biggest critic. But the trusted advice of someone who loved me unconditionally was instrumental in being successful at business.
As I head into the mid-life years; my receptivity towards learning is based upon my desire to reach for self-actualization. I have always been intrigued by self-actualization and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. I won’t digress into that topic now as I could fill a whole blog series on it. But boredom is definitely part of my longing for learning now. As a flight attendant, I sit in airports and hotels for hours at a time. I battle an addiction to Facebook and need to be distracted from spending endless hours on it. I want my time spent to have purpose and I need my mind stimulated. I desire to leave a lasting impact on the world I live in and make it a better place.In closing, receptivity towards learning is so important. I have had moments in my life where I was not receptive to learning. The years of parenting small children and running them to activities takes a toll. When those lower needs for sleep, safety and security are barely being met it is easy to sweep the quest for knowledge aside. As any junior high teacher can attest, learning does take Receptivity!