Tag Archives: Learning

A Tool for the Modern World

Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that working with a computer is the same as knowing how to read and write.

My life is a life of video conferences, keyboard shortcuts, navigating in three-dimensional worlds, email processing, and a dozen more tasks that require mastery of a handful of programs and applications.

It’s easy to think this is “baseline”. But it is not. At school we spend years learning to read and write, multiplication and division. But computer classes last two years at most, and teach little beyond the word processor.

The truth is that almost everyone knows how to search on Google, but not everyone knows how to do it efficiently. Not everyone knows how to use a browser for more than just reading a website.

And yet, these things are as important to the life of an adult in the modern world as being able to read and write.

Reading is a tool. Writing is a tool. Mathematics is a tool. And computer literacy is a tool. And it is as powerful as the other three.

Reading is a tool. Writing is a tool. Mathematics is a tool. And computer literacy is a tool. And it is as powerful as the other three.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc

The Subtle Art of Not Learning

For as long as I remember, I’ve been addicted to learning. I don’t know for sure when it started – I suspect after college, but it may have been sooner.

Every minute of my free time, I try to learn. If I am going out on a walk or to work out, I go listening to a podcast or audiobook. The same goes for cooking or washing dishes. If I’m eating at home, I’m watching a lecture on YouTube. Nor do I go to the bathroom without a book or article to read.

As a result, I have accumulated much knowledge, no doubt. And because I make a real effort to select the things I consume, I can even say that it is mostly useful knowledge.

But I’ve since decided to start an experiment of sorts: I will stop learning, outside of time specifically devoted to learning. Because I think that even as I learn new things, I am losing the ability to apply the knowledge. Because, as I fill my head with new data, I allow it little time to digest it all.

This was the lesson of Archimedes’ bath – the lesson that tells us that the solution to the problems that plague us comes up the moment we stop looking for it.

My time has always been spent looking for something.

Now, I’m trying to give room for solutions to emerge.

Too Much Learning

The modern myth: that more education is the answer to all problems.

I’m a fan of education. But I disagree. Action takes precedence over education. Learning is often another excuse to postpone action.

If you are going to do something, to start something you have never done before, it is smart and often necessary to seek education. To take a course, or read a book. It is important to learn the foundations, to have a starting point.

But from there, you have to do it. From the outset, learning must be complementary to action: it must be sought to solve obstacles in the way, or to move to a new level of mastery, after reaching a plateau. One should not seek education for its own sake.

Learning is a tool, not a philosophy.

Some things that – during any given process, trip,  or project – are more useful than reading a book or taking a course:

  1. Find a mentor or coach who can witness your process and evaluate you objectively. Someone who can point out specific areas of improvement.
  2. Be part of a community with the same goals. The exchange of knowledge is a form of learning, to be sure, but it is the motivation of having comrades by your side and the pressure of keeping up with the group that can help overcome many obstacles.
  3. Experimenting. Consider spending the time and money you would spend on learning trying out something new instead, and seeing how it works out.

Learning how to read, to see, and to listen is good.

Learning how to do is better.

Photo Credit: marcoverch Flickr via Compfight cc