Learning how to learn: would you rather take it with gravy, frozen or home-made?

3 mn de lecture

SEP-GRIS-EXTRAIT

“The learning agility, often used to identify high-potential employees, depends on the environment. People’s learning agility doesn’t only rely on their own responsibility. It is linked to the environment in which they work.”

SEP-GRIS-EXTRAIT

Article written by Antoine Amiel, Co-founder and CEO of Learn Assembly, and initially published on the website of Focus RH

The expression “learning how to learn” has been making a buzz for a while now. Students, startups and companies are interested in this topic for different reasons.

However, the meanings of “learning how to learn” widely vary depending on the context. Do we learn how to learn, or how to memorize?  

Learn how to memorize 

For some people, “learning how to learn” means learning to memorize. This looks more like studying for an exam than actually developing the capacity to learn. For others, learning to memorize is a good way to make money. YouTubers, coaches or gurus call themselves specialists of “scientifically proven learning”.

Having no time to check all the contents on that subject, I have no pretension to say whether they are correct or not. But it’s easy to say that it’s a mixed bag and that cognitive sciences are commercially misused. 

On the contrary, the science popularization led by researchers such as Stanislas Dehaene contributes to bringing substance to a debate that can quickly look like a bunch of beliefs, when serious empirical investigations exist on that topic. 

Learn how to learn or learn how to develop your skills?

For others, “learning how to learn” means learning how to develop your skills. It then becomes an injunction to be responsible for your learning and find learning solutions adapted to your needs. This meaning is mostly intended for adults and has to do with skills development. The expression “learning how to learn” tackles here the question of employability in uncertain times for many industries and job markets.  

Learn how to learn or learn how to develop your learning agility?

Last but not least, another definition of “learning how to learn” focuses on developing the learning agility, theorized by the Center for Creative Leadership and Korn/Ferry. This vision of learning agility consists of inviting the individual to develop the reflexivity and hindsight “muscle”. The person is invited to transform a lived experience into a learning experience. Learning agility is altogether a mindset, a posture and a group of practices that help us learn what we live. 

The learning agility, often used to identify high-potential employees, depends on the environment. People’s learning agility doesn’t only rely on their own responsibility. It is linked to the environment in which they work.

The notion of “enabling environment” has to do with the structural and collective dimension of learning. Someone who is curious, open to failure, and likes to learn from their experiences can face an environment that limits their potential and learning areas.

It is by measuring the global learning agility of organizations that they will be able to truly foster employability and people’s self-confidence. 

To sum it up

If learning how to learn helps people rekindle curiosity and critical mindset, contributes to deconstructing the negative image sometimes linked to the act of learning, gives visibility on skills and occupations and popularizes cognitive sciences, it can only be positive. If this expression only fosters paradoxical injunctions, hides deeper societal issues or gives way to scientism, it would be more worrisome. 


Learn Assembly is a learning company which mission is to help organizations develop their employees’ employability, in a sound and sustainable manner. As an architect and a builder of learning experiences, we help you gain height and get your hands dirty at the same time to make your projects successful.

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