All through my regulated school years, learning was made to feel like a punishment. Everything was graded and judged. Hours were spent on memorizing ‘stuff’ and dedicated to subject matter where the teacher never had a specific answer on how it might be used it at some point in our lives (I’m still looking for the benefit of theorems and state capitals). It’s been horrible how, in most instances, learning is not made out to be fun and purposeful. While I realize that not of all it is supposed to be, there should be a point to the bulk of it at the very least.
Now that I’m sort of a grown-up, I enjoy learning, especially in relation to my career. I subsist on research, ideas, social references and trivia. It now feels so right to collect knowledge here and there — whether it is a friend, colleague, or admired thinker. Beyond work, it’s a game where I set my own rules on what I want to dig into. There are no assignments and restrictions placed on what I can learn. And, it doesn’t feel tiresome in the very least.
Now that I have kids of my own in school, I get excited watching them learn and readily accept what their teachers are sharing. Fortunately, they are in a school where learning is not a punishment, but it is considered a gift to be treasured. I see it so differently in how my kids are responding to learning, too. Their first day of school yesterday spilled out in a long stream of consciousness, blow by blow of what they learned on the first day of course mixed with news on their friends. Dylan was thrilled with learning what the words of the pledge of allegiance actually represent beyond just being told to repeat them while Liam was excited to learn cursive writing (“little m and little n, mom!”).
Young or old, we all have the capability to be sponges and soak up everything that is around us. Whether it is picking up a book, engaging in a conversation with someone who has something meaningful to share or ideas to debate (we don’t all have to agree or see the same side to actually learn), or looking up a topic or word you don’t understand, learning is there for the taking.
Everything else is pointless fluff.