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Life is a school and Time is the Teacher, goes the old adage. We may, for the sake of correctness, add several humans among teachers, but the fact remains that Time is the real teacher.
We are born with a clean mind and learning starts from the moment we arrive. Science says that children also carry memories from pre-birth time, but the nature of memories is not clear. Learning continues throughout our lives; initial years are more formal learning while later years are more practical, informal, hands-on learning.
If learning is so integral to our lives, why is such huge variation in learning of different people? This is a question that we try to look at in a simplified manner.
Children are curious and always interested in experimenting. Their curiosity and quest of learning is insatiable. As we grow, we become more and more hesitant in experimenting; we prefer to go by standard ways. We also start suppressing our curiosity in the name of politeness, decency or whatever. The difference starts from here. Those high on the scale of curiosity and experimenting will learn more, while those being low on scale will have correspondingly lower results.
Encouragement from parents, and then teachers to learn and experiment is a critical factor in learning. When children are snubbed at every stage, their appetite for learning keep getting down.
Our childhood experiences determine our passion for learning. Poor experiences discourage us to learn while happy experiences encourage.
The subjects we study have a bearing on our learning. Though it is not a rule, but generally science students have more inquisitive style. They read about arduous efforts of great scientists to find or confirm some clues. It is a direct affirmation of inquiry in order to learn.
Government structure is a determining factor. In real democracies, which are aiming at the development of country and human development, the learning environment is created and supported by the state. Public schools provide free education till a certain level. In developing countries, state does not take much responsibility and leaves it to public to make their own arrangements.
Our social, cultural, religious orientation is a tangible factor in the learning process as well as its outcome.
The overall activity for enhancement of learning in public and private sectors, such as research and its commercialization, has a major contribution in our learning.
In today’s world, social media has taken over and is shaping our learning at individual and community level. A lot of trash is being dished out, but a huge amount of good learning opportunity is also there. Sites like Khan Academy have changed the shape of learning for millions of students worldwide.
Social media usage for promotion of learning and its negativity is a large subject and deserves separate attention. Suffice it to say that the impact is so huge that the algorithms used by Google and Facebook are influencing and shaping our thinking. More on this later.
Intellectual Learning is what differentiates humans from animals. We must not stop learning at any stage of our existence.