• Investigating answers and building awareness without external prompting
  • Pushing forward to gain knowledge, understanding and experience
  • Enhancing our skills and expertise on purpose

In preparing for this “Intentional Learning” article, I did what any good intentional learner would do. I googled it. Mainly I was hoping for some inspiration and I was curious to see if any prior Funds For Learning thoughts on Intentional Learning popped up (and yes there are a couple). As I looked through the search results, a couple of items did jump out at me. There are a bunch of results when you google intentional learning. I had not expected it to be that popular of a topic. And many of those are comparing intentional learning against other kinds of learning. The most popular comparison seemed to be between Intentional learning and Incidental learning. As the name implies, Incidental learning happens as you are working or doing something else and you just happen to learn something additional as a bonus. For example, as a child you probably learned how to play Candyland. You had to learn the rules and how to play the game, but you were also learning lessons about how to follow directions and take turns. You were intentionally learning to play the game, but incidentally were learning other important lessons. Each plays an important role in how we learn and depending on the situation, both can be very useful.
Thinking about the difference between Intentional and Incidental Learning reminded me of a project my daughter had to do for her business communications class last semester. They had to interview someone out in the business world about their job, but then also had to include other items such as statistics and charts that went along with the interviewee’s field of work. Since she couldn’t interview a family member, she asked if she could interview another of our E-rate Guides. As she worked to pull the various requirements of her project together, she pulled some charts and stats off our website about the E-rate program. Listening to her thoughts and observations about the program were insightful. Not all her observations were right (and had to be corrected by mom) but she did gain a fairly good grasp of the E-rate program. At the end, she had decided that working with the E-rate program was harder than she had thought, and I really did do more than just send a bunch of emails and talk on the phone all day. She started off by intentionally working on her project which was going to incidentally involve her learning some about the E-rate program. It ended up that she did have to intentionally learn more about E-rate and I incidentally am smarter than she thought.


Key Words and Phrases
Strive for understanding; Gather knowledge; Seek wisdom; Build awareness; Discover information; Gain expertise; Become skilled; Find answers.

Opposite Terms
Muddle; Disarray; Hit-or-miss; Indolent.

GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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