Why Bother Learning Something New?

Why Bother Learning Something New?

Most everyone is born with a capacity to learn. Though we start out as babblers, crawlers and droolers, with normal development we gain the ability to speak words in coherent sentences, walk upright and swallow our saliva instead of allowing it to pool in our mouths. 

Learning by watching others, partnered with curiosity and motivation, moved us along through those early years of learning. Then came formal education. The classroom setting requires focused concentration, as well as possessing a desire to learn. Even the best of teachers cannot force a child to engage their brain to absorb, remember and recall the formula for finding the area of a rectangle. 

For some, reading, writing and arithmetic may not have come as easily as learning to speak, walk and swallow and graduating from high school might just have ended their formal education. But for others, two, four, six, eight or even ten years of college might have been their track. Yet sooner or later, we all graduate and move out of academia and into “real life”. But the learning component is something we should never graduate from.  

We Are Never Too Old to Learn

Grandma always told me that we are never too old to learn, and I believed her. Coming from a large family, grandma said she had to learn how to get along with a variety of personalities—some who loved practical jokes and others who were as serious as an old preacher. She never grew tired of learning about others, and their unique personalities so as to appreciate and love for who they were, including her sixteen grandchildren as well as their offspring too. 

Our ability to learn does not diminish over time, but perhaps our desire to absorb, assimilate and digest grows weary. We all possess the capacity to grow our brains. Like muscles though, if we don’t use them, we will lose them.  

There is no end to what our brains can learn. They are powerful and malleable. Learning For some of us, maintaining our careers is coupled with continual learning. I’m required to earn six educational credit hours every five years. In doing so, I’ve immersed myself in new ideas of understanding how to better manage my classroom by creating hands-on projects so my students can learn concepts in different ways. Then, every day I get to practice and improve my new knowledge with students in my classroom. Of course, I hope they catch some of my zeal for learning.  

But learning new skills does not just come in the form of a book or a class. We can teach ourselves a new sport. Motivated by others gracefully gliding along the trails in their skate skis, I was motivated to give it a try. Struggling to keep my balance, I stopped and chatted with one expert. “You make it look so easy,” I said.

“Oh girl, I’ve been at this for four years!” 

I have a long way to go with this particular skill, but it is only by doing it that I will learn it. 

Why bother learning something new? We all have the capacity to grow our brains and in doing so, we grow our lives.