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The Essential Life of Learning

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Perhaps one Sunday afternoon you’ll find yourself strolling through a bookstore. Outside the air is cold and the rain, which seems determined to drown the entire landscape, will leave you desperately seeking out a distraction to delay the long walk out beyond the bookstore. Its cold out there, just stay inside and hover. And so, your eyeballs roaming out in search of something different, you will feel a growing sense of confidence beyond the typical fiction stacks.

Preserved and warm inside the store you stumble off into the distant shelves and sections. Beyond the gardening texts, the historical rows of commentary and self-perceived expertise you’ll find a section loaded with instruction, history and photography. In such a section one finds the memoir and the tell-all. The “Sports” section reminds us of the physical identify of the human animal and how often we drift into the notion of our own sort of dualism: the mind and body disconnect.

When an athlete decides to retire, he or she enters into a state of physical decay. The athlete does not need the muscular structure required to play professional athletes. Likewise, removed from the intensity of competitive play, the retired athlete’s brain will adjust itself to the new existence and distribute resources to meet these recent adjustments. Such alternations are not tied simply to the athlete or even the physical dimensions of the human being- the human brain exacts the same procedures when life changes and progressively adjusts our biology¬† to meet our current needs and lifestyle.

This process of changing or, perhaps personal evolution, reveal the genius of our biology. Our bodies do not seek to preserve our every skill; instead, the limited resources with which we can utilize are focused on areas based on utilization. This is a focus of efficiency which recognizes the power in focusing in on specifics, on drilling down to the current situation and preparing with specificity as the driving force.

I suggest that we take this similar process of adjustment and redistribution and apply it to our educational system. This is a minor adjustment in philosophy, however, with it comes a major, systemic series of adjustments that would render evening that currently stands as null and void. In such a system the focus can be boiled down to a guiding philosophy: “Because we’re always changing we always need to learn.”

There is no practice makes perfect here. Indeed there is no perfection. Instead we must always be in classes, always learning and developing new skills and ideas. Our lives are too dynamic and intense to use our current system of “loading up” from age 5-20. Such a system is a major gamble and places incredible decisions in the hands of those who have yet to see or experience the incredible variety that life provides. A better system is an on-going system: education must occur throughout one’s life and a society and its government should establish a system that enables such learning.

Society needs to establish a rich level of adult education opportunities. Initially the network that we currently have will function perfectly. We can start by offering incentives in the form of tax deductions or other “external loci” to draw people to these institutions. As usage expands the use of online classes can be developed so that gradually the learning process moves away from centralized locations and exists in a complicated patchworks of formats and locations. The topics must vary but we need to provide our students with three simple skill sets. This trifecta must be developed¬† before twenty and then adjusted as experience and personal development occur.

These three core-items for each individual are:

1. A career

2. A vocation

3. A hobby

These three items allocate individual resources in order to prepare for economic and societal changes that take place. As life continues these three core items must be adjusted and developed. In order to do so we need to recognize the essential life of learning and work to create a network that enables all citizens to grow and nurture skills and interests.

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