Life Long Learning
There is a sentiment, a goal, an ideal floating about mostly in “Higher Education” circles (as far as I have observed) where the goal or aim of a college is to create life-long learners. It's not a bad goal at all actually, in fact it makes good societal and financial sense: one four-year education to result in the ability to learn whatever you want the rest of your life, without the need for more college. In one sense I think that goal has been achieved, but in another I think there is still some room to improve. The skills to learn are being taught and reinforced, but what of the environment?
I will use myself as the model, mostly because I cannot speak for anyone else. I love to learn. It's one of the few things I am good at, and one of the few things I get excited about. I have all the necessary skills to learn; I know how I best learn and I know what I need to do in order to learn. One would think I am set to be a life-long learner, and in fact I would love to spend my life learning as much as I could. I naturally do not have the same amount of time to dedicate to learning as I once did, but that doesn't stop me; what stops me is information overload.
In school pupils have the benefit of a teacher who will scour the scholarly realm for the best books on a given subject and assign those books as the course text. In the “real world” we don't have that advantage. While on the one hand we are freed from the bias of a teacher we can also be crippled by the vast amount of information out there about any given subject, and the more popular the subject the more information there is. This is not always a problem if one continues to learn in their given field, but if one attempts to learn a new subject, I for one find it a daunting task to know where to start and whom to read first.
I have all the skills I need to learn on my own, and yet I wonder if my environment is conducive to learning. It seems to me there ought to be ways to find and locate scholarly works on a given subject that are recommended by other scholars, and perhaps even used as textbooks: there ought to be a way to avoid the fluff and speculation and find good material from which to learn. As of yet I have not found such a way, and in truth I have not looked all that hard, but I do know there are quite a number of things I would love to learn, from history to anthropology to linguistics, and I would be most satisfied to be an armchair scholar in any of those fields, reserving real scholarship to biblical topics. I don't know where to start, and it doesn't seem like this should be a difficult task if our educational system would really like to create life-long learners.
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