Learning is the New Skill

There is a skill that is far more important than coding, or any other skill for that matter, and that is the ability to learn.

There has been a lot of talk recently about learning to code. As a founder of BrainStation, a company educating people in technology and programming, I’m surrounded by it. So, should you learn to code? Without a doubt, yes! I’m biased of course, but for good reason. I recently stumbled across this great video PBS put together, “Is Code the Most Important Language in the World?” I think it explains the importance and benefits of coding better than I can.



That being said, there is a skill that is far more important than coding, or any other skill for that matter, and that is the ability to learn.

“Learning is the new skill. Imagination, creation and asking new questions are at its core.” – Sugata Mitra

In a world that is increasingly becoming automated and dominated by technology, the skill that will really set you apart is the ability to adapt and learn. Auto manufacturing is a compelling example of how automation can transform an industry, transferring jobs and skills traditionally performed by humans to machines.

The transformation of industries through the adoption of technology is a trend that will only become more relevant going forward. And this is the primary reason why the ability to learn is so important: learning new skills and adapting to your environment is the only way to ensure you don’t become obsolete.

During my time in education, I have seen one definitive trend: the most successful students are the ones who take ownership of their education, who are resourceful, who proactively seek answers to their questions, who are independent, and self-directed in their learning. It’s also interesting to note that these people often require the least instruction or direction. Not because they’re brighter or more capable, but because the process of exploration, seeking answers, making mistakes, breaking things, creating mental models and forming ideas about the world actually improves their understanding and retention of concepts. The success these people achieve by applying this “blueprint” to their learning extends well beyond the classroom into their jobs, hobbies and the general acquisition of knowledge in their daily lives.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese Proverb

Our entire philosophy at BrainStation has been shaped and molded around how we can create the best “learners.” When building curriculum or structuring the learning environment, we are always looking for ways to facilitate and support the development of learning as a skill, not just programming and technology. I believe great education should be about more than just learning math, science, or in this case coding. A great education should empower you with the confidence and skills to blaze your own trail in life.

Below are the qualities we strive to instill in all of our students at BrainStation. Developing these qualities will make you more successful in everything that you do.

Here are five traits of a world-class learner.

1. Comfortable with Failure: Failing is inherent in the learning process. Your first painting, web application or poem is going to suck, but it will get better. Think about all the shots Michael Jordan missed or the number of times Babe Ruth struck out. Learn, adapt, improve, move forward.

2. Relentlessly Resourceful: Answers are not always obvious or immediately available. Go find the answers to your questions, don’t rely on others to find them for you. And remember, there are no rules in life, don’t be afraid to try new things and think outside of the box. Technology has provided us with some incredible tools to gather information. I use Google. A lot.

3. Self-directed. Ultimately, you are responsible for your education. It’s time we stop putting the responsibility of education solely on instructors, teachers or administrators. They are there to facilitate learning, not define it. The more you rely on the institutions and systems to direct your learning, the less adaptive you will become.

4. Confident: Approach new challenges with positivity, knowing that you can overcome anything. Will it be difficult? Probably. But your frame of mind will have a significant impact on how you deal with the ambiguity and discomfort of learning something new. If you’re confident, the result is a foregone conclusion. All that’s left is to execute.

5. Master Skills: The real world is not made up of multiple-choice exams or grading systems where 60% is a pass. Learning is not a race and there is little value in having a skillset that is 60% complete. Master concepts and skills before moving forward. A strong house is built on a solid foundation, not one full of holes and cracks.

What I love most about the list of traits above is that these are things we can all acquire. We’re all capable of great things. Be confident, fearless and dream big. Whatever your passions or interests are in life, develop the ability to learn and you’ll set yourself free.

In the words of Mugatu from Zoolander: “Learning… so hot right now.”