On 8 July 2022, Wittenborg said goodbye to another group of bachelor’s and master's graduates, during the Summer Graduation Ceremony in Theater Orpheus in Apeldoorn. While some graduates might go on to pursue additional degrees, such as master's or doctoral degrees, for other graduates this graduation ceremony could mark the end of their academic pursuits. That does not mean that they should stop learning, however. Instead, continuous learning, also known as lifelong learning, is something they - and we all - should strive for. There are a number of reasons for that.
Although many of the lessons you learned while pursuing your degree(s) will be useful to you over the course of your life and career, to a certain extent a degree is always a product of its time. It cannot fully account for future developments, which means that some of the things you learned will become irrelevant, whereas concepts that have not been introduced to you will become relevant. Therefore, if you want to stay relevant within your field, you need to stay up to date. You can, for example, do this by following literature (both academic as well as popular) published about and within your field.
Similarly, continuous learning about subjects outside your core field will make it easier for you to transition to another field or industry, should yours become irrelevant due to some unforeseen developments or technological advancements, or if you lose interest in what you are currently doing.
Maintaining Your Passion
Furthermore, keeping up to date on developments both within your field as well as the larger world (e.g. random topics that interest you, from the sciences to the arts, as well as societal developments) will broaden your perspective and provide your brain with input to stay inspired and generate new ideas. This, in turn, will help you avoid a situation in which your work will start feeling like a mundane chore. It will also help you identify new interests, which makes life more interesting and will help you grow as a person. Finally, it will improve your competence, and therefore your confidence. Lifelong learning is beneficial not only to the quality of your output, but also to your emotional wellbeing.
Improving your Organisation
Finally, continuous learning can have a positive impact on your professional environment. After all, your behaviour can and often will rub off on the people around you. Therefore, if you dedicate yourself to continuous learning, your colleagues become more likely to pick up the habit as well, which will make them grow as professionals and people too. This will improve the workplace environment as well as the quality of their output. This is especially the case if you are a manager or a supervisor. You can facilitate this even more by sharing resources, or, depending on the organisation, by organising activities.
A Marathon, Not a Sprint
It should be noted that although every person will occasionally learn things just by going about their day, true continuous learning requires dedication as well as effort. If you do not consciously make room within your life for lifelong learning, you will not get to enjoy the benefits. So, take time to read, watch and listen. Similarly, do not expect instant gratification. Instead, be patient and trust the process. As Malcolm X put it, “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
by Marius Zürcher