Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Bookworms, hungry minds and information

I looked up "bookworms" and found blogs about reading, Goodreads, and related subjects.  I looked up "hungry minds" and found cafeterias with that name. On the local campus, the library has a snack shop inside called "Food for Thought."  I often meet with people over 70. Most have PhD's but some don't have a college degree. It doesn't matter. Some people just have a natural curiosity. 

I hope in this country that most people with a natural interest in things have a chance to attend school for as long as they wish.  There are more online, local face-to-face and other schooling opportunities than ever before. If you want to see interest in education, watch "The First Grader", the story of the 84 year old Kenyan man who insisted on his right to attend elementary school when his government first offered free education.  He actually was in the 1st grade.

I have met several people who were not able to attend school when younger but who still have, or later developed, or later recognized, a curiosity about this and that.  It is often touted as "lifelong learning" but I am not happy with that phrase. I prefer "exploration" and "curiosity" since many opportunities don't come with tests or deadlines and are just for fun and stretching a bit getting into some new thoughts .  For some people, it is far more fun to hear personal reactions to a trip to Morocco than to watch the pseudo-leather ellipsoid get carried yet again across that goal line.

Our local paper recently ran a front-page article by a young reporter on what 3rd graders and 8th graders are learning in their local math classes. It can be disconcerting to find that old skills have evaporated while new skills are being learned by children.  Don't be surprised if some old skills are the subject of focused re-learning. And, yes, new skills are coming along steadily. Maybe none of them are needed but some may be interesting, fun or valuable.

And, today, we have Google searching, as well as Bing and Duckduckgo.  Software that can search out nearly anything. I don't trust myself to carry a smartphone since I have the habit of running to Google every other minute to check this and explore that.  I can spend quite a lot of time comparing states and countries, learning dates of birth and death, understanding who said what when and to whom. I know I am sick and I am seeing someone for my problem.

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