Becoming a Learning Enthusiast with Steve Backshall

August 21, 2020

Wondering how to become a learning enthusiast?

You’re in luck! Wildlife enthusiast Steve Backshall pauses from creepy crawlies and dangerous animals to give us some advice. Not only is he an avid explorer, but he’s spent his life eager to learn and discover more. Now, he shares his top tips with you on how you can become a learning enthusiast too.


Steve Backshall with an owl


‘The thing that every naturalist, explorer, adventurer and conservationist have in common is their passion for learning and being learning enthusiasts; their way of looking at the world as a puzzle that needs to be understood. We are all students, and every day is a different lesson.’ Steve Backshall

I’ve been doing expeditions for a living for twenty-five years. In that time I’ve been to 111 countries, filmed tens of thousands of species of animals, watched the sunrise over unclimbed mountain peaks, and the sunset on rivers no one has ever paddled before. I’ve spent time living in communities from the high Arctic to the darkest jungles.

But I still treasure the fact that every day is a learning experience.

That is especially true of the natural world. There are over ten thousand different kinds of birds, more than twenty thousand fish, and over eight hundred thousand species of beetles! All told, there may be twenty million species or more on our bafflingly complex planet. And you could study any one of those animals for a lifetime and still be surprised by them.

I find that hugely exciting, but it also keeps you humble.

It’s not quite possible to know every single detail about the natural world. However, youngsters who get started in their learning journey early, have a world of discovery and wonder ahead of them.


Here’s how you can become a learning enthusiast:

  • Ask Questions

Sometimes it can feel embarrassing to ask questions, especially if you feel like you’re expected to know the answer. But all of history’s great thinkers, noble explorers and world leaders ask questions all the time! Don’t be afraid of not knowing something; asking questions is the key to setting that right!

  • Cherish your mistakes

The greatest learning experience of my life was my attempt to walk across the jungles of New Guinea on my own. I failed and made a right mess of it, but that was okay because I learned more about how NOT to do things. Our errors are always the things that teach us the most, so don’t be ashamed of them, don’t regret them, just USE them as a springboard to overcome challenges in the future.

  • Have a plan

It will always change, but having a plan for everything in life is a massive part of success. That could be an exam revision schedule or a plan for how to evacuate your team from an expedition when someone gets bitten by a venomous snake!!! My wife is a double Olympic gold medallist, and they practise ‘visualisation’, where they think through every stage of a race a thousand times over, preparing themselves for every eventuality. Then when something goes wrong, they’ve already thought of how they’ll react!

Explore uses their ‘Fearless Four’ to reward courageous behaviour.

  • Training is not just for muscles

When I went back to university to study for my Masters (in the poisons and venoms of salamanders!) I hadn’t been a formal student for years. I was shocked at how difficult I found it to do simple sums and science. However, after a few months, it was as if my brain was getting fit again! Read books, do puzzles, play word games, and THINK as much as you can; it’s a veritable workout for the brain!

  • Find your passion

There are so many paths you can tread, so many subjects to study, so many opportunities to take. Say yes to as much as possible, take chances, have fun! That said, when you find your passion, get stuck in! If you can concentrate on one special journey, you’re much more likely to reach your destination! Learn how you can discover more this summer.

Adventure and the opportunity to learn more is always out there!

Why not start becoming a learning enthusiast today with Explore Learning’s Create Your Own Adventure story? I need help to shape the story with what happens next! Watch the story from the beginning and tell me your ideas for our final chapter.

In the meantime, make sure you catch up with all of the amazing free workshops, live lessons and activities taking place at the Discover More Festival.


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