You live, you learn

I find myself quoting Alanis Morissette again so soon after my Isn’t it Ironic blog post. Wise lyricist she was, and she was definitely onto something.

I think that clinging to the wonderment and joy of seeking and acquiring knowledge is a noble venture. Applying that knowledge to some meaningful purpose for the benefit of others is even greater still. More pragmatically, learning from one’s own shortcomings is a valuable skill.

Humans are naturally curious creatures and our quest for understanding has resulted in innovational feats which seemingly defy mankind’s potential. Our species has reached the moon, mapped the galaxies, documented art and literature, broken down cultural barriers through globalisation and technology, created artificial intelligence, and made instant communication so easy that it’s taken for granted.

Why then is it so burdensome to study?

“ I don’t like studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.” – Natalie Portman

In Western culture it is common to hear teachers offering incentives, whether verbal or tangible, for students who study and complete tasks. From golden stars to good grades, there seems to be a diversity of extrinsic motivators and classroom management strategies in order to get students to study. Heck, I do it to my own students if I feel they are somewhat disengaged or lacking focus.

It’s similar for adult learners too. I’m required to complete 60 hours of professional development in order to maintain teacher registration and I need to motivate myself to study certain legislation and training in order to complete the requirements, yet I do not hesitate to pick up a book on a topic that interests me and read and research for hours: you do not need to bribe me to do that. Evidently, interest and passion are intrinsic motivators.

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favourite stories!

Anything that ignites my imagination is an intrinsic motivator!
As I can only speak from the sum of my personal experiences, I believe my problem towards study is feeling obliged to do it. The duty overshadows the love for seeking out information, hence the motivation diminishes.

“Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong.” – Albert Einstein

I love this quote from Einstein because it emphasises the connectedness of humanity. Any knowledge a single human being acquires becomes his legacy, in turn this legacy becomes the foundation for future knowledge and a beautiful domino effect occurs in investigative celebration of a pioneer. Evidently, the quality and morality of that knowledge could benefit humanity, or lead to its demise. Nevertheless, knowledge is going to be adapted inevitably by someone, somewhere, sometime. For this reason, among many, we should continue to study life and the world around us purely for the love of learning.

Our quest for understanding causes us to define everything. We would be wiser to marvel in the profundity and mystery of the universe. Not everything needs to be labelled or defined. Sometimes it is through our wonderment and awe that we gain the most wisdom. Yet our ego craves answers.

“Man cannot stand a meaningless life” – Carl Jung

As much as I would like to know the answer to many lifelong questions burning inside me, I crave something more meaningful to me: inspiration. It is through inspiration that I create my best work and find purpose and meaning in my life. It is through inspiration that I learned to love selflessly. Meaning and value is only what one assigns it to be.

Through ongoing learning we occupy the mind with the tools it needs to devise meaning which is so personal and arbitrary. We cannot tell another what is meaningful for them and vice versa.

May you continue to seek knowledge openly, inquisitively, and passionately, and may you think critically and ethically about how you choose to apply your education.

#education #motivation #learning #meaning


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