First-Person Learning

There is no substitute for your
 first-person learning

Not just facts, statistics, and academic theories.
Not just acceptance of what ‘experts’ say.
Not just inculcated beliefs.

Note: Click on any word on this page (and click it again) to experience OLSN, the Online Learning Support Net.

When it comes to understanding learning you have 24×7 access to the most powerful learning laboratory in the world: your conscious, intentional, inside-out, awareness of, and participation in, whatever you are doing. 

Back to “I am learned“…remember yourself as far back as you can. Remember what it was like to be you:

Remember how you thought about your world – your understanding of or ignorance about how things worked, how the world worked. Do you have a deeper understanding of things now? Do you have a different world-view now? Do you feel wiser? How did that come about?

Remember how other people ‘made’ you feel – your ways of handling your own and other people’s emotions. Are you more emotionally mature now? How did that come about?

Think about what you can do today that you couldn’t back then – writing, driving, the things you do for work and play. Are you ‘able’ to do a lot of important things you couldn’t do back then? How did that come about?

Do you have ‘bad habits’ now that you didn’t have back then? We’re you more in ‘awe’ of the world as a child? Did you feel more innocent?

In each case, and in virtually all other differences between the you of now and the you of then, the difference is a learned difference. Perhaps you are saying to yourself that you are who you are because you were abused, specially loved, abandoned, had an accident, or developed a disease or disorder as a child. But in all such cases it’s not just what ‘happened’ to you but how you learned to respond to what happened to you. After all, unless you were in a coma, you actively participated in what happened, you ‘coped‘ as best as your learning made possible.

It’s critical that this be 1st person real for you – not just an abstract idea or concept (like you might have about your computer or car or a task at work). Objectively learning ‘about’ learning as a ‘subject’  is no substitute for subjectively learning into your learning as you’re learning. Try it on, experience yourself as someone who is always learning (healthily and unhealthily) and who has learned to become who you’ve become (in every way not genetically or divinely determined – in every way and in every situation that you participated in).

From such a mental lens and awareness, realize how every experience in your life contributed to how you’ve learned yourself into being who you are.  Realize the role of learning in your life and in the lives of the people around you;

– in your physical health, emotional life, family dynamics – in virtually every aspect of your behavior and in the behaviors of everyone you know.
– in our society; politics, economy, law, technology, products, corporations – in all of our collective behaviors.

Explore the difference between humans and other life forms through the lens of our individual and collective capacities for learning.

Explore how ‘human evolution’ can be seen as the path of ‘organic learning’.

Explore how the ‘history of civilization’ can be seen as the story of our ‘collective learning’.

Continually ask: what part of me isn’t  shaped if not determined by learning? What part of my behavior at any given moment isn’t? Ask the same question about everyone around you.


Observe children
Notice how much of children’s learning difficulties are the result of their previous learning misinforming or misguiding their learning now.
Observe yourself
Notice how much of your learning difficulties are the result of your previous learning misinforming or misguiding your learning now. Notice how often your ‘breakthroughs’ are the result of breaking through your previous learning.

———- MIND-SHAME ———-
Observe children
Notice the change come over children’s faces, voices, and body languages when shame triggers.
Notice the shame when children ‘perform’ in public.
Notice how children, mostly without even being aware they are doing it, avoid engaging in what causes them to feel shame.
Observe yourself
Notice your own shame and what happens to your attention (thus learning) when it triggers.
Notice yourself ‘avoid’ thinking about things – learning about things – that trigger shame.

The better you learn about learning through your own first-person participation in learning, as distinct from learning about ‘it’ as you would something abstract and outside of yourself, the better you can understand learning and, by extension, help others participate in their learning. Being first-person learning-oriented in your approach is the best place to come from when helping someone else learn whatever you want to help them learn. This isn’t to say that our scientific knowledge about learning and teaching can’t be helpful, rather that it is most helpful when its informing and being informed by our first-person learning. The ideal is to ‘sync-up’ with the interior first-person learning going on within a learner and differentially unfold learning challenges according to what you’ve learned about teaching, learning, and the challenge’s particulars, AND in response to the feedback you’re seeking from their first-person process. Without that ‘sync’ with their inside-out participation you are following a robotic protocol. You can’t ‘sync’ if you aren’t freshly familiar with your own inside-out participation in learning.

This site is a continual work in process. Its pages are working drafts that will evolve over time.  If our work interests you  please share your thoughts, feedback, and comments and consider subscribing to receive updates about new posts and articles.  If you think what we are doing is important, please consider contributing whatever you can to our non-profit work (see side panel). Together let’s ignite the dialogue. 

Learning Stewards is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that depends on the support of people like you.

Please donate whatever you can.

Help us help children, parents, and educators
while you shop at Amazon!

Or send your tax-deductible donation check to:

Learning Stewards
1800 Gardiner Lane #1
Louisville, KY 40205


  1. Major Update to Children of the Code – Two New Video Chapters | Learning Stewards - December 27, 2012

    […] First-Person Learning […]

  2. 2020 Vision: The Institute for the Study and Prevention of Acquired Learning Disabilities - Learning Stewards - December 30, 2019

    […] First-Person Learning […]

  3. Growth Mindset. Really? - Learning Stewards - April 14, 2022

    […] First-Person Learning […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.