Georgina Guedes

Learning grows us

2013-07-04 08:22

Georgina Guedes

Another editor that I follow on Twitter tweeted this "@Mededitor's Law of Information: Any fact you learn, no matter how minor, arcane or specialized [he's American], will at some point prove useful to you."

To which I responded, "And frequently within the week." He replied, "Spooky how often that happens."

OK, so this was a discussion between two editors - people with a thirst for information - on Twitter, where most of the people I follow are clever and insightful, so we were likely to be of similar minds on the matter. But it got me thinking about another comment, from another, far cleverer person:

"Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'."

I always get a little thrill of significance when I read that quote, because it resonates with me. I am not someone who is degreed up to the neck, but I do have a great deal of respect for knowledge and learning - although I acknowledge that the two do not always go hand in hand.

Knowledge, whether it is bestowed upon eager minds by a university lecturer, or learnt by a young child lost in observation in a garden on a hot summer day, is the only mechanism by which we better ourselves. By gaining a better understanding of how the world works and our part in it, we can unfurl the tendrils of our own existence in ways that link us to other people and to our own future success.

As was revealed in the conversation between @mededitor and me, we both find that the little day-to-day increments of knowledge we gain simply by paying attention and taking joy in learning, frequently deliver a return on the investment of our interest, in a very short period of time.

I often come up with a fact or solution that people are astonished by. My most common response to the question, "How did you know that?" is, "I learnt it in school." Granted I went to a fairly good school, but the point remains that a great deal of the knowledge we are spoon-fed from an early age becomes relevant later in life, if we only hang on to it.

Which brings me back to Asimov's quote. So often, there is a celebration of mediocrity or a lack of interest in society. So often, scorn is directed at those who pursue knowledge. "Oh, so you like reading!" is not said in an admiring tone by certain segments of the population.

The point I am trying to get at is that we should never become complacent about learning. This is not a column about the failings of our education system (although there would be plenty justification for that), it is rather to implore or remind myself and my readers to continue to find joy in the pursuit of knowledge, however it presents itself.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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