Thursday, August 20, 2009

Learn Like the Wind!

I'll be at Sport of Kings this weekend, an SCA event that promises fun and learning.

Learning.  It's one of those critical things that people do every day.  Some of them don't notice it.  They're reinforcing habits, entrenching their points of view, defining who they are by what they do.  Although I know lots of people watch a lot of television, I don't believe that this nation is comprised entirely of couch potatoes with nothing better to do than work and television, but I'm rather the optimist.  

Anyway, ideally, given a choice between doing the same thing (and doing it better each time, presumably,) and doing something even a little bit new, there are advantages to doing the new thing.  It's more data into the system, and that forms new connections in the brain.  More connections=healthier brain.  Mix it up--physical, spiritual, intellectual, relationship/social--and you have a much more complex and healthy brain.  This is a good thing.  Research is showing that the more games you play, the more people you have in your social network, the more things you do outside, and the more introspection you do, the better your brain is able to bounce back from problems.  The big scary (which we all have a 10% chance of contracting and those with genetic factors have a 20% chance) is Alzheimers.  Guess what?  Some people with that disease don't seem to suffer very many ill effects.  What kind of people?  Yep.  The folks who go out birdwatching, and play chess with people from around the world, who learn how to play sudoku one afternoon and go through a bunch of books before they move on, the ones who volunteer ... sometimes they go undiagnosed until after death occurs from other causes.

Besides, learning is fun.  I can learn stuff from the television and books, but to make it really stick it's important to apply it in some way.  Researching and then writing stories.  Reproducing a historical costume.  Playing a game against a challenging opponent, or just an opponent that interacts.

I wonder if the Italian Renaissance came about not just from the discoveries of a few men, but because the social demands and interactions were so complex that people's minds expanded with synaptic complexity before unknown to man.  To be 'someone' you had to have knowledge in science, poetry, music, religion, art, fashion, food/wine, politics, foreign languages and manners.  Martial skills were often admired in the men, and women could add textile arts to their domain.  They didn't just read about these things.  They applied them.

In our information-saturated society, we have an opportunity for another explosion in our capacity to understand and be.  We can't be passive about absorbing this information, though.  Political commentators are our enemies in this regard--handing our opinions to us.  Even the media will not be helpful.  Besides, I know how much they set things up and lie--it's ridiculous all the things they stage and edit to go a certain way, just like reality tv does.  The media is no more reliable than hitting random on a Google search--their purpose is to make money, not transmit real news.  To really learn and gain the benefits of learning we have to become active explorers into our world, through travel or communication with real people who are living and working in the situations we're interested in, in short by finding trustworthy sources who have more at stake than a 15 minute news spot to fill.  But I digress a bit.  We can learn lots of kewl stuff, more than our ancestors could have ever dreamed of, and then we can do neat things with that knowledge.  It's good for individuals, and it's great for society.  It's all good.  We like the good.

I'll be back with a post on Monday.


Lea said...

Interesting post. One of these days, I'll challenge you to a game of Facebook Scrabble. :)

Are you attending Acorn War? That's the next event for my camping group. Hope to see you there!

Things that puzzle this other goddess.... said...

So, so true. It always amazes me to watch the news about an event I actually know the facts on and to realize that it bears no relationship to the reality that I witnessed...I often wonder if my reality is warped. ;D It was GREAT to see you this weekend!

Orion said...

We haven't thought as far ahead as Acorn War. I suspect, though, that I'll be managing Programming Hell during that time.

Heh re: Facebook Scrabble. Actually, if there's a non-facebook ap, that might be better. I don't trust facebook aps, generally speaking.

It was great to see you too, other goddess! BTW, I'm pretty sure both of our realities are warped, but that only makes things worse to have the media warp them even more ...

Kami, signed on as Orion because she's too lazy to switch profiles

The Moody Minstrel said...

You know the old expression, "Live and learn?" Well, I guess the reverse is true, too.