Archives for posts with tag: learning

There are two ways in which we may acquire information.
The hard way and the reasonable way.
By ‘immersion’ or by learning.
By ‘getting stronger if lucky enough to survive’ or by making sense of what had happened to others.

We happen to be born.

Then we start exploring the world our parents – and all their ancestors, have prepared for us.

At first, we’re like sponges. We absorb, unconsciously, everything which takes places around us. Some according to what our parents had in mind for us, some not.

After a while, on our own and/or under our parents’ supervision, our attention starts to focus. More and more of the things which are stored in our memory are learned. Increasingly a consequence of focused labor and less and less a happenstance.

Almost simultaneously, we start adding our transformative efforts to those already effected by our predecessors. Minute at first, more and more significant as we become more experienced.

At some point, we reach something called ‘maturity’.
That’s when ‘play’ ceases being a legitimate manner of learning for us.
We are allowed to continue playing but only for recreational purposes…

At least we’re still allowed to explore… but from now on, we’re expected to do it in a serious manner. According ‘to plan’, that is.
From now on, wandering is considered to be a sin!

‘You’re an adult, for God’s sake. Act like one!’

I’m sure most of you have experimented things. Either as an experimenter or, mostly in school, as a learning apprentice.
How many of those experiments had been ‘blind’? As is neither you nor anybody else present had any idea about what was going to happen?
And how many had a more ‘modest’ goal? Just to convince the ‘students’ that the ‘theory’ was valid?

If you think of it, the second sentence covers quite a lot of ground.
From the second grade teacher pouring water over some sugar ‘Look, it has disappeared’, to the scientists anxiously watching the gauges at the CERN laboratory…

A few short generations ago, people had to decide whether that plant was edible or not. And had developed methods to accomplish that task. They survived, right?
Nowadays we design new plants/animals and ‘cook up’ fancy snacks to be sold in supermarkets…

During our parents’ ‘watch’, Popper had come up with a test for what belonged to the realm of science – and had to do with ‘reality’.
Nowadays, we brag about being able to create VA. As in virtual reality… Enhanced virtual reality, even!

Nothing good or bad about all this.
For as long as we keep our eyes open… and, at least one of them, focused on the ‘hard’ reality… that which makes us possible!

We’ve arrived at a very interesting point in our evolution as a cultural species.

Having more or less solved our existential problems – food, shelter, companionship, we’re hard at work towards building ‘self esteem’.

Putting it in Abraham Maslow’s terms, a good portion of the humankind – most of those active on the internet, the netizens, have reached the ‘self-actualization’ stage.

The problem being that we’re so preoccupied with ‘expressing our true selves’ that almost nobody listens anymore. Truly listens…

The kind of listening needed when we try to learn something. To understand what’s going on.

As opposed to the listening used when educating somebody.

When attempting to learn, we listen opening our minds. We let information in and structure it afterwards.
When educating people, our listening is focused. We take information in with the sole goal of detecting dissent – in order to stifle it, and openings to exploit in our quest to implant our opinion about the world in the minds of our ‘targets’.

Take a breath.
And exhale carefully not to inflate another bubble.
There are already a lot of them waiting to burst.

Theory has it that visiting foreign people might make us wiser.
By seeing how each of them cope in their own environment we might learn the beauty of each culture.
By taking in all the differences between us we might learn how ultimately alike we all are.

Or not.
The key word here being ‘might’.
Whenever subjected to a learning experience we only might become wiser.
Being confronted by new information is only an opportunity. Not a all a fatality.
Integrating that new information into our personal library of ideas has to be preceded by a ‘digestion process’. We need to understand and accept each of them first.
Depending on various factors, some of us might remain indifferent to at least a part of what is going on around us.
Depending on various factors, some of us might reach a different conclusion starting from the same set of raw data.

The fact that each of us has a determinant contribution to the learning process explains the differences between our perceptions.

Whenever visiting a foreign country, each of us comes home with a different opinion about those places.
The fact that none of us remains indifferent represents our shared humanity while the differences illustrate the individual nature of the human species.


The way I see it, this lady is freer, in body and mind, than most of us will ever be.

The animate kingdom usually REacts to stimuli/situations. If hungry a preset sequence (genetically acquired or previously learned) is set in motion without much internal deliberation. The same goes for when evasive actions are needed. This kind of reactions are usually called ‘reflexes’ or ‘acquired reflexes’.
Humans use them too. We pull our hands when we touch a hot object and we use our arm to protect our head against an incoming stick even though we know this is going to hurt. And no, this is not a rational decision. It is made too quickly for the brain to have had time to reason. If that was the case the brain would have ordered the entire body to move.
I like to use a slightly different name for this kind of interactions: ‘integrative-reflex responses’. Integrative because all available data are used, simultaneously, and reflex because they not based on reason but on a pre-existing pattern.
But humans are able to use yet another method. We reference past experiences, try to establish how relevant they are for the present situation and then adapt the solution we used then to the current problem. Sometimes we confront the possible answer with a filter, usually of a moral, legal or ‘traditional’ nature.
For me this kind of reactions is ‘rational -discursive’: ‘rational’ because it implies rational choice and ‘discursive’ because it is sequenced in time. Moreover both ‘reasoning’ and ‘sequencing’ are made using language – most of us think and remember by speaking to ourselves, right?
Here you have a practical example of these two different attitudes in action: humans stick to what they have already learned because nothing really prods them to change anything to the time proven strategy while the monkey jumps directly to the conclusion once the relevant information becomes available.
The (surprising?) conclusion reached by Victoria Horner: “we are better of because of this!”
Also, our ability to build a discourse about something gives us the ability to make mental projections – to ACT, that is.

%d bloggers like this: