Learning By Creating

Go on creating

As you approach problems, decisions and opportunities, do any of these statements sound like you?

  • If I could find the “best way” to do this, then this will solve my problem.
  • I need to find out as much as I can about what others have done in order to learn something new.
  • I don’t have time to make mistakes, I need to find the perfect solution before I begin creating.

Do you notice anything missing from the statements above?  How about creating? Creating is a powerful method for learning. Stephen Downes captures this well in his Learning by Creating post.

“I think that, in general, creativity in its various forms – writing, film-making, etc. – is a much more powerful form of learning than any sort of passive receptivity or information transfer.”

If your first reaction to figuring things out is to perform passive action (i.e., not creating) try these 4 simple tips to learn by creating.


“Who has begun has half done. Have the courage to be wise. Begin!” ~HORACE, Epistles

It’s a simple word that becomes complicated the longer you consider the meaning of it. So, don’t think about it – just start creating something that didn’t exist before.  You can think, research and discuss and never begin.  If beginning is difficult for you, just start doing (e.g., writing, painting, running, whatever it is).

Keep Doing

“Knowing and not doing are equal to not knowing at all.” ~Unknown

Doing is like continually beginning over from one moment to the next. The more you “do”, the more you’ll learn. The more you learn, the more you’ll gain confidence in your journey. Don’t worry about doing it right, there is no right way “to do” other than taking action and creating.

Explore Errors

“When we’re wrong, we have to challenge our assumptions, adopt new strategies. Being wrong on is own doesn’t unlock new doors in the adjacent possible, but it does force us to look for them. The trouble with error is we have a natural tendency to dismiss it. You should transform error into insight.” ~Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

When you tinker, you’re going to make errors.  Create space for errors and keep an open mind. You can miss a lot when you’re not open to deviating from your solution or path.  You can be so focused on one way that you miss unlocking the opportunities in your errors. Did you know that penicillin, pacemakers, microwave ovens and many other products were all created by accident?

Be Curious

“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.”  ~Bernard Baruch

Curiosity is another word that gets complicated the more you think about it – so, don’t. Instead, think about a small child playing and try to be like that.   Always open to what is happening, wondering how things fit together, asking lots of questions and not worrying how this is perceived by others.  A few tips for being curious:

  • Don’t assume you “already know”.  If you think you already know, pretend you don’t and see what happens by using I don’t know to learn and grow.
  • Ask lots of questions (e.g., who, what, when, where, why). Ask questions from an open minded position rather than asking questions in order to dismiss.
  • Be present in the moment.  How can you fully investigate what you’re experiencing if your mind is in the past or future?
  • Have fun.  Everything doesn’t have to be so serious.  Enjoy yourself, relax and play.