How many times have you said, felt, or heard someone say..
“I just can’t study anymore.. Good riddance.. Life beckons now!”
“Errr.. Whatever that was, I did not understand. And don’t bother.. I don’t think I can understand all that.”
“I am too old to study anymore.”
“I am too old to learn how to use all those fancy gadgets.”
“I am just too old to learn all that new stuff.. Please let me be, would you?”
Fortunately, I don’t hear myself say it – within my mind or aloud – but that is just because I am this pompous, elitist, “I’m a researcher, baby. Learning stuff is what my brain is trained to do.. Give me more!”
character freak. Being that also means that I don’t expect the same levels of over-enthusiastic manic zeal to learn from the average normal person. But, God knows, I have heard all that far too often than what I presume should have been my fair share.
And the scariest part? Most of it uttered by people my age, give or take 5 years.
For most people with this mindset – which happens to be most people, – saying “I don’t know” comes easy when “shouldn’t come across as stupid” isn’t on their minds.
But, rather than being a stepping stone towards “Hey, I’d like to know – at least a bit!”, this “I don’t know” is a big boulder blocking their way & making them turn around with a “I am pathologically incapable of moving any further.. Sorry!” etched bold & big across their foreheads.
I am not talking about learning rocket science, or even ‘complex’ Linux commands. A severely dumbed down explanation of a simple illness elicits a reaction as though it was straight from a latin medico text. Talk about how caste plays out in daily life & how it rears its ugly head in the power dynamics of caste hierarchy – people act as if they are blind, and just can not see what is happening around them. But of course, they’d cry themselves hoarse about how the caste-based reservation system is looting their “upper-caste” selves of their rights. Same with any other social issue – education, patriarchy, equality, pick what you may. People learn the ins & outs of Facebook and all the apps to live life 24×7 on FB, but Facebook’s privacy settings fly straight over their heads. Pick just about anything – language, history, science, psychology, economics, civic responsibility. People balk at even trying to comprehend a minimum of two basic facts or concepts, put in the most “layman” of ways.
The basic problem seems to be : if learning something involves reading four lines of text, or listening to three minutes of speech, or trying to do something for ten minutes, or thinking about something for fifteen minutes… then ignorance is bliss.
To complicate the problem, we have had our brains trained to “learn” a certain way all through childhood, up till college. “Learning” then, was equated to “grasping” some facts and techniques, retaining them till the next examination, and wiping our brain slates clean for the next set of lessons.
Enter adulthood, the brain still reacts the same way..
“Do I have to learn this? Will I be tested on it?”
“If not, then there is no incentive to learn. Bye!”
“If yes, I don’t want to fail in yet another test. I’d rather not go through with this. Goodbye!”
“You say, learning this would make me ‘cooler’? Well.. may be I will try to learn superficially, and just the stuff that is ‘cool’.”
Is that dumb? Is that sad? I can’t seem to decide.
May be, it is just a misconception about what is meant by ‘Learning’?
To me, ‘Learning’ isn’t knowing everything about something, or mastering a skill. It isn’t even knowing the basics of something and retaining it forever.
To me, ‘Learning’ is processing new information, seeing new things, seeing old things with new eyes, and leaving my mind just a wee bit more opened up. Forgetting what was learnt isn’t an issue – once learnt, re-learning comes easier every time. Pace isn’t an issue either – each person has a unique one.
To me, ‘Learning’ is simply possessing the self-confidence to tackle the “new” when the need arises – either all by myself, or knowing where to seek help.
To me, ‘Learning’ is feeding the curiosity demon, and keeping it alive. In spite of it being of “no use”.
To me, ‘Learning’ – by reading/listening, by doing, from experience – is the very essence of human life.
Saying “I don’t know” to ‘Learning’? That too quoting ‘age’?
Imagine living life till 80-90 years of age, with almost the same level of knowledge & insight gained at 25. [shudders]
Now.. how much ever my brain tells me that most people do that because of years of conditioning by the “education” system..
I can’t help being rude & saying (within my head) – “Please go, get a life!”. And perhaps, write silly posts on morons.
I just don’t get it!