I was making toast this weekend. Making toast is a great time for me to do the do the dishes, because it takes minutes in our toaster oven, and what else am I going to do?
Our toaster oven is fancy enough that it has a timer for the toast on the forint, in a snazzy LED screen. After I was done washing dishes, I looked at the toaster oven and saw a number that looked like it could be the time remaining on the toast or the time of day.
I gazed at the little LED screen for a while, wondering if it would change to 1:36 immediately, or to 1:38 eventually. The implications were dire. The first option would mean that I’d timed my dishwashing badly, and that I had to find another chore to work on for a whole minute-and-change. The second option meant that my toast was getting cold, and that I should immediately get a plate out of the cupboard an get the jelly out f the refrigerator. A lot was riding on that number.
And almost immediately
The difference in time in that half second and that second was indicative of the nature of learning. We learn in ignorance and hope. We learn best when we have a stake in find ing something out. If we think the information presented to us has no immediate or future relevance to outré live, or is even a contra dissection or complication on what ee already know. We will actively work to ignore it. On the other hand, if we believe that the information is important to our fate, we will search it out, heed it, and act upon it.
I’ve been cramming a lot of new information in my head over the last 5 years. Some of it was my interest, most of it I had to learn. And there’s plenty I’ve left by the wayside. A decade ago, when I was still trying to figure out what information I wanted to get good at, I bought a mess of books on IT subjects. I learned that the mere act of buying the book does not teach its goodies to me. I have to read the things and apply the exercises therein. I’m glad I’m equipped to learn Java when I have spare time, but thee is no spare time. Too much of import to learn IT books are like comedy, timely and outdated by next year. If I’d bought books on OS9 I’d be in trouble.
I have a friend who is taking drafting classes. The first thing they are doing is the alphabet. I would be terrified to have to relearn the alphabet, as I’ve already thoroughly unlearned the cursive alphabet. It was no use to me. We make progress by learning what we need, and ignoring the rest. But learning is always hard at first, fun later. Strength is made of a lot of weakness.