I have heard for many years now that we must encourage our children to be “Life Learners.” As noble as this catch-phrase is, I find that the only time in our lives that we real dedicate to learning is childhood and early adulthood. After our jobs and families set in, we put learning aside. We might dust off our thinking caps for mandatory CE’s, but as a whole, we settle in quite comfortably in the “old-dog-can’t-learn-new-tricks” category. Learning is essential for our brains. They need to be used in daily analysis, evaluation and creating in order for each passing year to be purposeful and stimulating.
Taking-in information, storing that information and then applying it to new situations is the process of creativity or learning. Learning is not passive but deliberate and active. When you are conceptualizing, applying,synthesizing and evaluating information/skills for the purpose of reaching an answer, conclusion or outcome, your brain is doing what it was meant to do. In other words, it is a conscious systematic and analytical search engine better than “Google.”
You want to make dinner tonight. You have chicken and pasta. You have no idea what you want to do with both ingredients that has not been made before ad nauseam. The database in your computer has endless amounts of information ranging from the gestation period of chicken to the best restaurant in Venice, Italy. All this information is there, but not all is needed for your problem.
Now the search in on! The purpose of a search engine is to analyze, to evaluate, and to apply for you. It searches through the mass amount of information on the internet based on key words you have imputed to sort out what is applicable. This analysis of information has purpose. The computer knows only to return a list of documents, i.e., recipes for your specific problem. Our brains work the same. We move through stages of searches and steps of elimination of information to achieve the right answer to the problem…we learn.
Just like the new upgrades in apps and software, we need to continue introducing our brains to new information. Keeping the process of learning continuous helps our brains “upgrade.” Any skill/knowledge or advancement in a familiar skill/knowledge, as silly as you might think it is, works. Reading literature of a modern author then discussing it with others, taking a foreign language, learning how to paint or dance, constructing or shaping artwork can engage your mind and make you a true testament of being a “Life Learner.”