The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.Leonardo da Vinci
In today’s world, most of us love using the initialism LOL. For the small minority of you who still think it stands for lots of love, let me correct you. It does not. It never means lots of love. It means Laugh out Loud. That is the only way it is read these days. Full stop. So when you text: “Your dog was just run over. LOL. Mom.” No matter how you try to explain it, you are being a real ###. You have been warned. Ironically, or at least in my experience, no one who uses LOL in a text is actually laughing out loud. Just putting that titbit out there into the blog-universe in the spirit of learning.
My kind of LOL
Now a Love of Learning is a LOL I can embrace. There is nothing more empowering and uplifting than learning something new. My husband Nicholas is an information sponge. This means he is always a fun source of trivial facts, which he enjoys emitting at the most arbitrary of times. Just the other day we were taking the children for a bike ride when he suddenly blurted out, “Did you know that a cat reaches terminal velocity at 100km/h?” Just to be clear, my husband is a huge animal lover and has never tossed a cat off a seven-storey building. It is just a fact he read somewhere. Not the most useful information I grant you, but it was certainly a conversation starter.
LOCK DOWN Antics
In this time of lockdown isolation and social distancing, we have all been learning new things, mostly unintentionally. For example, cabin fever hits roughly around day fifteen of seclusion. Delirium sets in about two weeks later. That is how we now have an endless source of bizarre TikTok videos. This is not the type of learning I am talking about.
I mean learning real new skills or challenging our minds to further study fascinating topics. My husband used this time to learn how to make croissants from scratch. I must interrupt myself here to say, that they are the most delicious croissants you will ever have. Unfortunately, his new hobby resulted in me learning that there is truth to the cliché; a moment on the lips a lifetime of the hips. Still, it was soooooo worth it.
Now to have a love of learning in the sense that it is a strength, there are a few prerequisites that have to be met. The first and most obvious is that you must get a feeling of pleasure or a sense of accomplishment from learning new things or building on existing knowledge. There is an entire cohort of matriculates learning right now, but only a small percentage of them are relishing it.
Secondly, you must actively seek out or participate in this learning. Accidental learning through consequence does not count. For example, having to Google “How to remove permanent marker off freshly painted walls” does not qualify as a love of learning. The answer is hairspray by the way for those moms reading.
Finally, the topic does need to challenge your abilities. Puzzle building is a great source of learning visual-spatial awareness and problem-solving skills, but not when you are 38 and building a 48-piece puzzle.
What kind of brain do you have?
When I think of a love of learning I always think of the endearing quote from Winnie the Pooh. ‘…And Pooh, his back against one of the sixty-something trees … thought how wonderful it would be to have a Real Brain which could tell you things’ (Milne, 2007, p. 172).
What have you been learning? Have you taken some of the incredible virtual tours available on the internet to learn more about the fascinating museums and temples the world has to offer? Are you learning a new language? In South Africa, we have no shortage of official languages to choose from. Perhaps you are learning to play an instrument or experimenting in the kitchen. Whatever tickles your fancy, I hope you have been using this precious time to train your brain and expand your intellectual horizons.
Remember you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but since you are not a dog, you have no excuse. The actor, Morgan Freeman got his pilot’s license at 65.