I value learning above everything else.
I cannot put into words how much I love, adore and care about learning. My mind needs to be stimulated regularly, daily to be precise. I love learning. It could be anything from how shoelaces are made to how a nuclear reactor is made, after looking at video of how The Godfather movie was made and finally looking at the reasons behind the boom in the transatlantic slave trade in the first half of the 19th century and so many other subjects.
That is how my mind works since I am a kid. My parents instilled this curiosity in me, each in their own way, may the Gods bless them abundantly. Moreover, they pushed my curiosity to new heights regularly. They made sure the house was filled with books, of any kind. Here is the magic about books; if they are all over the house, every kid will pick one up and read at some point. Then, most of the time, they will never stop. They will always read. It doesn’t have to be novels. It could be comics. I know I learned French by reading comics. I know my Greek is still great because of the Greek books that were lying around our home and the many Greek movies we had. I learned English through books and movies.
I learned many things from books, movies, comics, magazine articles, Wikipedia, the internet in general, one could say. I am curious by nature. I love learning. I crave knowledge. I would love to know everything, but I know I cannot. Therefore, I feed my mind with knowledge every day, every chance I get. I learned a whole deal from school, but one thing has always puzzled me, and it was confirmed by a study I read a while back;
LEARNING DOESN’T FULLY HAPPEN IN SCHOOL. MOST OF THE LEARNING HAPPENS AT HOME.
I know it sounds crazy and I am about to sound like a hater or a school basher. I assure you, that isn’t the case. Granted, I stand before you with a university certificate so far in my life. The explanation for that? I hate the concept of school and how it is constructed. Let’s just say I cannot sit in a classroom for hours and listen to a person talk, no matter how knowledgeable and interesting they are, I just cannot. That is my problem and I will not project onto others. Academia is one way of learning. I find it to be a rigid way, according to my learning method. So, I hate school, but I love learning. Quite the conundrum, I’d say!
I have nothing but admiration and I admit I feel a slight envy for people who have had long and accomplished careers in the academic field. I admire them to the point I feel like bowing whenever I see them. A dear friend, whom I love deeply and admire even more, is finishing up her PhD. I have another friend who has an MBA which he completed while being married and with a newborn! My own father is a gynaecologist, which means he went to medical school and did a specialty which sums up to 10 years of university! My mother is a nurse, that is 4 years of nursing school, which isn’t a walk in the park! My parents are obviously personal heroes of mine.
These academic freaks as I call them in my mind are worthy of respect and admiration. They fight to respect deadlines, they study several hours at a time, they go to a hundred classes, they put their social lives on hold, they write projects and half the time they are tired and broke. They are unsung heroes, I tell you! If you are in the middle of an academic career, I wish you nothing but luck! I admire you.
Now, do not get me wrong: I find school profoundly useful and it teaches you many useful skills. There is no doubt that my kids will go to school like other kids. Yet, in my mind they will go there to learn social skills, to see what school has to offer, to learn about failure, to see what it feels like to study about things they have zero interest in, etc. Moreover, I find that the school system standardized testing doesn’t measure integrity, ingenuity, creativity, entrepreneurship, resilience and so much more and we don’t necessarily learn about public speaking, writing, helping others, serving others, sacrifice, hard work, etc. Feel free disagreeing with me but I am just talking about my experience. Perhaps schools have changed in the past 2-3 decades but not as much to fit my learning methods and I am not special anyway, why would they adapt to fit me?????
I told you earlier about a study I had read. It said that: MOST OF THE LEARNING HAPPENS AT HOME. Yes, at home. Learning happens where we live, not where we go to study. Learning happens with family members, not with teachers. The teachers help a great deal and are unsung heroes, they are paid too little and are not respected enough. Yet, the study showed that there is an infinite power in doing homework with one’s siblings and parents, at home, and to see the whole family have a genuine interest in what the kids are doing.
Yes, that is fact. Kids become smarter and more curious when they are encouraged and stimulated at home. I was blessed to have that kind of environment at home growing up. I will instill that in my kids. Their mother and I will bombard them with knowledge. The house will be filled with books, there will be limited tv and screen time. I will challenge them every day. I will encourage their curiosity and I will push them to ask questions. I will even tell them to question me and my way of thinking! Some think that by allowing kids to question you, that will create anarchy and they will not respect me. Au contraire! There is humility in saying “I don’t know” and that will push me to learn more and them to do research, and therefore think for themselves.
School and academia aren’t a sure path for success but maybe it is the best path we think we have. I am saying this as a person who has met many people who couldn’t express a coherent thought while having master’s degrees and/or titles before and after their names, which are signs of high caliber higher education. On the other hand, I have met people who barely finished high school but with brains sharper than stainless steel knives. Intelligence is never guaranteed through academia unfortunately or fortunately, depending on where you are sitting.
My point is this: learning is an attitude. Learning isn’t defined by classrooms, teachers, subjects. Learning isn’t defined by your diplomas, as precious as they are and as they should be! You paid for them and you spent years studying and learning. I salute you.
We tend to forget, or we dismiss that learning is an active process. Learning is a way of life, believe it or not. Learning is a behaviour. For learning to be a part of one’s life, it must become second nature. Learning is about asking questions and being curious. People talk about learning as if it happens sometimes. News flash; Learning doesn’t happen, it isn’t an accident. Learning is an action, there is nothing passive about learning! Never!!!
We live in a great era, where technology is omnipresent. Your phone can help you right now learn how to solve equations, how to invest, because of YouTube and Google. Imagine that kind of power. Imagine what anyone can do by looking for answers. You can take classes from thousands of miles away by using a Wi-Fi connection. Imagine how goddamn lucky we are!
No one has lost anything by reading more, by writing more, by watching more documentaries, by researching more. No one has ever lost anything by learning more and by living a life centered around learning. School will help you learn but it has limits. When you decide to be a student of life and for life, possibilities become endless.
Learning is one of the greatest joys of life, if you ask me. It is an absolute pleasure and learning is and will always be an action!
So, keep learning. Consistency is key and it is only too late when you are dead.
Just one man’s opinion.
Now smile and go on with your day.