Thoughts On Learning

Recent conversations have triggered thoughts in me that wondered about education and the process of learning. In one instance, during a family conversation we were discussing about how our main door used to be a single door. It’s been renovated to become a double door and I was asked if I remember how the single door used to look like. It’s something that I’d seen almost everyday throughout the years of my existence, and yet it was difficult for me to remember exactly how it looked like, how its design was made and what color it was among other things. My mother then got all worried and recommended to enroll me in a memory improvement course, to which my brother responded to with something that matched my own sentiment at the time:

“You don’t remember things that are non-essential.”

In another instance, and technically a few minutes ago at the time of writing this part of the post, I was asked by my younger cousin a question about Computer Science. We’re both enrolled in the same school and in the same course with him being a freshman and myself a senior. He’s very good with math and I’m the complete opposite, and in terms of grades his are higher than mine. I was not able to answer his question, but that made me wonder:

“Should I have been able to answer that question?”

That made me think. It’s also making me procrastinate from a program I’m working on, but that aside, how can you really decide what’s worth remembering and what’s not? In the realm of the academe, we’re put into educational institutions to have a chance to be exposed to information of all kinds. We’re asked to gain knowledge and display a mastery of this knowledge, gaining a reward in the process — the certification of an institution to help convince the world that we are, in fact, intelligent. In other words, a diploma.

What’s a diploma for? What are high grades for? What is a resume filled with work experience and leadership positions for? Where do all these things lead? I cannot help but imagine that this leads to a job, a way for one to earn a living, maybe even more than one needs if you’re in a high position, or a way to support a future family with children to be part of the next generation of people who will, more likely than not, try to do the exact same thing.

All this potentially stemming from the ability to remember.

So … what if you’re not good at remembering?

Surely there are some people who remember things better than others, but does success in life depend on the ability to do so? If we can remember, what if what we choose to remember isn’t what institutions are looking for? What if what we do remember won’t lead us to things we could use to fill out that resume? Hell, what is “success in life” in the first place, our participation in the capitalist systems embedded into the world and positioning ourselves in a hierarchy of power?

It’s not like I’m saying that simply working hard and gaining a lot of profit out of it is instantly a bad thing, because that can be done with good intentions in mind. Power isn’t necessarily bad either. It’s just that, what this means to me is that we can’t just learn to be able to sustain ourselves and our loved ones. We can’t just learn to gain the means to be able to bring forth into reality, to manifest into the world good intentions. In a general sense, “learning” itself is not good enough.

We have to learn in a certain way.

When I look back at what I’ve written, I realize that “learning” and “remembering” somehow found themselves morphing into one though I must point out that they are different. Remembering simply refers to the ability of being able to keep something in your memory and recall it as you wish. Learning, or at least how my mind understands it, is something more complete and more encompassing than remembering. When you learn, you’re not merely good at remembering but you’re able to use all of what you remember, make sense out of it and find situations wherein you could apply it. I don’t remember Calculus, I learn Calculus wait a sec no bad example i dont believe i have learned calculus

And at this point in time I’m rambling. Whatever need to create a single coherent thought that I had some minutes ago disappeared, and I’ll take this as a sign that I should get back to my work.

I wonder what I’d be able to do if I learned how to make my thoughts more complete.

~ by rtnario on March 8, 2015.

One Response to “Thoughts On Learning”

  1. Wow, that was one big clusterfuck maelstorm of a philosophical rambling post.

    I’d like to apologize in advance for substituting some philosophy with facts that I’ve learned (we’ll get to it) in the last few years, but I’ll get to the former later as well haha.

    I’ll start off with my situation. I live in The Netherlands, and on secondary school you either spend 4, 5 or 6 years (plus the years you fail), depending on what … uhm, level you’re at, I guess. But anyways. I was in my third year in the second-highest level in a class for gifted kiddies. In broad terms, I ‘simply’ had gained severe learning difficulties and severe social inwardness. I was constantly passive-aggressively bashed by my classmates, even through the façades of friendlyness they put up. (On a small irrelevant detail, they were honest-to-god friendly when we were alone, all of them.) This escalation was already set in motion before secondary school (in fact, I’d say the Merlinoboy incident, if you remember it, is as good as any flagpole to indicate the start with). So at the end of my 2nd year in secondary school my parents stumbled upon a special place in The Netherlands (which was at the time the only one of its kind) where high-potential drop-outs can focus on themselves the way they can get their life back on track, without the limitations that ‘the system’ puts on their movements. Halfway through my 3rd year I started there and gradually went less and less to school until after about two months I didn’t go to school anymore, at all. I became a high-potential drop-out for realzies.

    A bit of a jump ahead. I’m still on that place, after 1,5 year and a few. Yet, whaddya know, I’m studying already, regardless of the fact that most studies require me to have a secondary school diploma.

    That brings me to the most important thing I wanted to say in this comment; what a diploma is for. It’s purely this:

    It makes getting around easier.

    Otherwise put, if you don’t have a diploma you can still achieve a lot in the system of wherever you live, though with more effort. I’m working hard at this moment to get through this study, but one essential difference with how I go through it compared to secondary school: I don’t care about that stupid paper anymore, but only about the most important thing, and that is to learn what I -want- (insert emphasis here) to learn. After all it was of my own choice that I started this study course for the Producer / Sound-Engineer profession. Not even to become exactly that, but to enrich my experience with music the way I let it benefit me, and to let it further help me find out what to eventually do in terms of a role in this system. What that is is a story for another day, as that is one question my life is currently all about, but it still serves as a great indicator of freedom that I’m now able to see my life in a perspective in which I am more free to shape my life. After all, a system exists for the sole purpose to limit certain aspects of freedom so things work in precise coordination with each other. Frankly the system doesn’t work for me, so I substitute the system’s reality with my own, and I’m doing just fine.

    About the remembering versus learning thing. I want to make sure you understand that everyone remembers, hell, learns, in a COMPLETELY different way. Let it be clear that an important factor for both is what your attention span allows you to devour. That which grabs your attention, which mesmerizes you in one way or another, however much, is more likely to be remembered than other things. This is why I got two tens (highest grade here) in a row with my last two tests at the study, which were about solfège and music theory, which might have been helped with me being fascinated by sound ever since I can remember (hey would you look at that). There’s a reason we remember very specific little things from our earliest childhood. Some had an impact on us that might now be silly, but at that time was earth-moving. I just happen to have been a very curious baby so I remember the christmas when I was three, and the house where I lived till I was 3,5 in rather precise detail. I am now learning in that special place I described earlier how to use this knowledge of self to benefit my learning in general.

    The question is how I’m gonna go through that. But it’s gonna be a bumpy ride and I intend to make it count. After all, the ending has not yet been written.

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