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Audio eLesson 2013-0617


Recently I saw two car bumper stickers that grabbed my attention.
1. “Got questions? God has answers.”
2. “If you eat, you’re part of agriculture”

Why do people advertise on TV, the Internet, or with bumper stickers? They want to grab our attention, develop our awareness of their product or cause, and get us to buy their product or support their cause. Let’s look at each of these.

“Got questions? God has answers.”
We all have questions about life that we’d like to answer. If a religion can give us those answers then we can understand our lives better. That’s the intention behind the creator (no pun intended) of this bumper sticker.

“If you eat, you’re part of agriculture.”
In this sticker the creator is making us aware that our need to eat demonstrates our connection with agriculture. They want us to value where our food comes from and support agriculture.

There’s a current trend in advertising of asking questions to get us interested and engaged. Geico Insurance, for example, has an advertisement that asks “Can switching to Geico really save you 15% on car insurance? Is Too Tall Jones really too tall?” The first question is serious, one they want us to ponder; the second question is funny, to make us laugh. Advertisers pose questions because questions stay in our awareness longer. We ponder and think to answer their questions. This engagement captures our attention making us more likely to take action to buy their product or support their cause.

It’s always important to use attention and the learning process as litmus tests for developing awareness. In the first sticker our attention is directed toward an important aspect of our lives: our spiritual growth. The limitation comes when we look at how the learning process is affected. Answers to our questions are necessary, but we need to find those answers through our own rigorous process. If we allow others to give us the answers, then we simply adopt what other people tell us. In other words, we need to be engaged in the questioning and searching process, learning what a particular religion teaches, and answer our own questions. We may decide to become part of a religion, but having gone through an active process expands our understanding and awareness of our connection with that religion. So, in this sticker, attention is supported for developing awareness, but learning isn’t.

In the second sticker our attention is directed to an important aspect of our lives: the need to eat. We become aware of an important part of eating: valuing the agricultural origins of our food. In other words, we engage and take action to learn where our food comes. So, in this sticker, attention and learning support developing awareness.

There are three points in developing awareness. First, developing awareness begins with intentionally directing our awareness onto something. This is attention, the intentional directing of awareness. Both stickers do this. Second, we engage a situation to learn. The first sticker doesn’t do this because answers are given to us. The second sticker does do this because it engages us to study agriculture. Third, our awareness expands beyond its original level having gone through this learning process.

The critical point is the active engagement of our attention in the learning process. We do need others to direct our awareness to what we need to learn, but once engaged we need to go through the learning process ourselves. Teachers are just guides. The sign of an excellent teacher is one who asks students questions instead of giving answers. This is what we strive for in the Warrior’s Way clinics. The first question we ask after students do an exercise is: “What observations do you have?” This stimulates students’ thinking to reflect on their own learning process.

Questions are important for the learning process. Don’t feel like you need answers to them immediately. Questions are stressful; answers are comfortable. Relax into the stress of the questions. We continually come back to the need to value stress. Advertisers are beginning to understand this. A little discomfort in the advertisement, by asking questions, stimulates us to pay attention and get us to take action. Simply dwell on the question itself. The answer will come at the proper time…when you’re ready.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Very interesting way to think about interacting with others! Do you believe that in order to start the learning process and go beyond the critical point the question has to pertain to something the “student” is interested in or is this something that, no matter the posed question, people respond to?

    1. Hi Jacob, students learn better the subjects they are interested in, but seems like we learn a lot of subjects growing up, going to school, that we need to learn as well as possible. So, how the teacher teaches is critical. My son is in high school. He has some terrible teachers and some excellent ones. What’s the difference? How the teacher engages students. Questions are only a small part of making that shift, although a helpful one. a

  2. Thanks for bringing this topic up! Being engaged actively in the learning process is critical for the brain to make the connections and create new understanding. I work as a school psych in preschool and elementary levels. It is very difficult to help parents understand the value of engaging their kids in learning and not expecting it to happen in great depth by plopping a screen in front of them. For the climber in me, I appreciate the reminder of how learning is enhanced by questioning and being engaged in the learning process. As an additional tidbit of info, climbing was recently described at a Learning and Brain conference as an activity that supports brain health and development and the acquisition and maintenance of executive functions! A TOTAL brain and body workout! Thanks!

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