"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
January 30, 2015
Learning in New Ways
by Dian Thomas

For someone who did not like to read and write, life has really changed. When I was called in high school to the counselor’s office after taking an aptitude test, my counselor told me not to go on to college, because I did not have the skills to make it through.

All of my life my dream was to go to Brigham Young University, and that was just what I was determined to do. When I got to BYU I learned about a reading lab that might be able to help me. I went there and again the counselor told me that I did not have the skills to make it through the university.

With the help of my good parents driving to Provo on the weekends to read to me, and my boss at the bookstore, Bing Elliot, who would never let me quit, and my ability to figure out the classes that would be best for me to take, I eventually received my masters’ degree. Yes, there were often major struggles.

My favorite saying when it got really hard was to say, “What does this mean in eternity, anyway?” That simple saying seemed to take off the pressure and keep me going for the next round.

Today life is a dream with the advent of computers. Probably the biggest tool I use is to have the computer read to me. There is a tool on both the Mac computer and the PC that allows one to highlight a section of print and then the computer will read it to you. You can go in and decide if you would like a man or women’s voice when you listen.

It also allows you to set the speed so it will read really fast or very slow. I use that tool for every email or anything that I write. I can hear the mistakes that I would not otherwise pick up when I read from the typewritten page.

Today there are audio books that many people listen to, but not every book is in audio. If I can buy a book that is in a Kindle format I can then highlight it and have the computer read it to me. I often like to read along in the text while the computer reads it out loud.

Spell-check is also a great invention. This time instead of having a teacher mark up my paper in red it is only the computer and the computer does not know how to give me a low grade. It just helps me correct the mistakes.

Even though school was a challenge for me, learning is a huge passion of mine. I tell people I started to travel so I could learn at the speed of light. All I had to do is to see the Great Wall of China and I will never forget it.

Now one of my new favorites is to learn on YouTube. I remember one day I wanted to learn how to wash my windows like the professionals do. I put “window washing” in my search, and 15 professionals showed up to show me step by step how to wash my windows like they do.

I have learned there are degrees of learning. I watched the movie called Moa Last Dancer. I liked it so much that I got the Kindle version and had the computer read it to me. I was so fascinated that I then went to YouTube and put in the movie title. What came up were several interviews with Li Cunxin, who was the person the story was about.

I listened to every tape I could find where he gave an interview. This was such a fun learning adventure. With all the computer tools I was able to go deep in my learning experience.

Now I know that I never need to feel dumb because I learn in different ways than others. All I have to do is to explore all the new learning techniques and find the one that will work for me. I do not have to live with the cloud over me that I might be dumb because I do not learn like other people do.

Join Dian on her next travel adventure, which will be a 7-day bike ride through the fields of tulips and the quaint villages in Holland.  For more details call Dick Jensen travel at 801-917-1131. 

To learn more about Dian’s creative and fun books go to www.dianthomas.com.

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About Dian Thomas

Dian Thomas was blessed with the good fortune to be born near and raised in the remote, breathtaking Manti-La Sal National Forest in southeastern Utah, where her father was the forest ranger. She took the skills she learned in the outdoors and turned them into a New York Times best-selling book, Roughing It Easy. Her appearance on the NBC's "Tonight" show with Johnny Carson boosted her into the national media scene, where she became a regular on NBC's "Today" show for eight years and then ABC's "Home Show" for six years. After more than 25 years of media exposure and 19 books, she now shares her practical insights and wisdom with audiences who want to savor life.

A former Relief Society president, Dian is currently serving as a visiting teacher. Visit her website at www.DianThomas.com

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