The Love Of Learning

I noticed a large poster behind the check-out desk at the public library yesterday. It depicted a stack of books and proclaimed the message, “Cultivate the love of learning.” I thought to myself that I’ve never had to cultivate a love of learning; it seems to have been innate. Both sides of my family are curious folks by nature. As a child, I never considered the possibility that some people do not like to learn about things.

By and large, my friends and coworkers have been people who enjoy learning new things or expanding their knowledge bases regarding their particular fields of interest. None of them have ever had to struggle to cultivate the love of learning.

Doug, was the technical engineer at one of the radio stations I worked at and was also my room mate for a couple of years. When he wasn’t tinkering with something, Doug seemed to always have his nose buried in technical manuals. He read them the same way other folks read novels and non-fiction books. He derived great pleasure from the manuals–most of which contained hundreds of pages of text and illustrations.

Whenever Doug finished reading a manual, he’d start over again in order to memorize certain portions that he deemed essential to his work. Doug sometimes talked about particularly interesting theories and technical aspects that he learned. Whenever he had aha-moments at home, Doug reiterated them and explained his newfound knowledge to me. His acts of trying to teach me something that he had just learned was one way he cemented new data into his memory. He once explained that as a child, he bothered his parents and siblings the same way. He was “using” me as a substitute brother. Doug was one of the most intelligent colleagues I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing–I miss hearing about his epiphanies.

One of my college room mates was Andy. For awhile he was one of those “career students”. He had not figured out what he wanted to do to earn a living, However, he had managed to win numerous scholarships. Most of Andy’s time was spent engaged in writing post-graduate essays and preparing his thesis for a doctorate in psychology. Andy eventually earned his Ph.D. in Psychology, but he never became a practicing psychologist. He was eventually hired by a marketing agency headquartered in Omaha. From there, he later moved to Toronto, Ontario to do creative art work at a larger company.

People used to chide Andy about his ambitious pursuit of knowledge. He took their insults in stride and used them as further motivation to study even harder. He said that his desire for knowledge could be compared to a starving person’s cravings for food and water. Andy was not out to make a name for himself, his urges to learn were sincere and came from a very deep place in his mind. He wanted to learn something about everything in the Universe but was aware enough not to become a dilettante. He focused enough time on each subject in order to become fluent in its workings.

Doug and Andy are just two of my friends who exemplify the advise of the poster in the public library. It’s not just the knowledge itself they are after; it’s the process of research they enjoy. It’s not just about knowing how to perform tasks or understanding what makes things tick. It’s the act of learning that they really love most.

Anyone can be a lover of learning because education continues in one way or another. You don’t need to pursue a Ph.D. like Andy or digest technical manuals like Doug. You can certainly do so if you wish, but the entirety of life from childhood until we rest on our deathbeds can be a process of learning and loving every moment of it.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Leonardo da Vinci. “The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”  

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Friendship, Hometown, philosophy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Love Of Learning

  1. I read this with a mix of admiration and shame, because, while I admire people who truly love learning, I myself am not one of them. A lot of that is because I struggle with self-consciousness during the beginner stage of knowing very little.

  2. rkrontheroad says:

    There are so many ways to continue learning as an adult. Libraries and Internet provide learning opportunities, self exploration projects, reading and writing. I have spent years teaching, but no longer want to be on the other side of the classroom. Always looking for more flexible ways to explore. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

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