Thursday, September 9, 2021
My daughter gave me a book entitled Renovation of the Heart by theologian Dallas Willard. One section caught my eye in particular when the author talked about learning. He used the acronym VIM, stating for vision, intent, and method. Willard asks about how to learn a language, say French or Arabic or Tagalog.
Now that got my attention because I took French (got a D) and Spanish (mostly A's). But I can't speak either language.
In realty I failed.
Willard says that to learn a language you've first got to have a vision for it. That means reflecting on how learning a language will enhance your life and the lives of those around you. It means visualizing how by learning that language you'll be able to understand and relate to others in ways that you never could but for learning that language.
Second, Willard says that you've got to be intentional about learning the language. That means that you've got to do more than just want to learn the language. You've got to make up your mind to purposefully pursue learning the language. Intent is acting upon your vision to learn.
Finally, Willard suggest that you've got to engage in the method of learning language. Just having an intent and a vision isn't enough. Learning a language takes lots of practice with lots of mistakes and growing pains along the way. To be frank, it takes courage because it feels so unnatural. It's risky. It's humbling. And yet it can also be delightful because you're growing into a different person because of the experiences that you are having in learning. But you've got to approach learning methodically.
Now I know why I failed at learning French and Spanish. I had the vision. And, I had the methods. But I didn't really intend to really speak those languages. I just wanted to learn enough to get by, which means - at the end of the day - that I didn't really learn.
For those of you just embarking on law school, the law has its own language so to speak. On those days were you find yourself struggling motivationally, you might take a few moments to ponder how the subjects that you are taking can enhance your future service as an attorney. You might reflect on how to be more intentional in your learning. And lastly, take some to think about the methods that you are using to learn. Are you practicing the law as a learner or are you really just going through the motions of learning? It's hard work but rewarding work because what you are learning today will someday be life changing for others. And that's an important lesson to lean into. (Scott Johns).