Rewards of lifelong learning

Last Updated 28 April 2014, 20:02 IST

Eric Hoffer, the American moral and social philosopher is noted for his philosophies on learning. He believed that “the future belongs to the learners, not the knowers.”

Several scholarly thinkers, savant personalities and brilliant academicians vouched this idea and advocated a philosophy of life-long learning.

Many inveterate innovators, persistent experimenters, passionate scientists, creative artists and distinguished leaders, without whom this world would be a poorer place, have always been committed to life-long learning.

Alvin Toffler, the former associate editor of ‘Fortune’ magazine, neatly summed up the idea of life-long learning as he said, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read; it will be the person who does not know how to learn.”

Learning should thus be reckoned as an essential part of an individual at any point in his life. To stop learning is to mercilessly stunt the growth of one’s cognitive skills.

It is a harsh reality that most adults stop learning once they take up employment and join the rat race of competitive living. This permanent halt in learning any subject or skill in a formal manner is a major deterrent in the inducement and growth of new cells in the brain.

There is growing evidence that the act of learning can indeed help the formation, production and sustenance of new cells in the brain that effectively boost the power of the human brain.

Researched and proven methods suggest that learning can increase the presence of new cells, called neurons, in the brain.

Putting the mind to formal learning is a sure way to keep the brain power boosted and the mind sharp.

Picking up a subject to learn outside of one’s profession and a job has several other rewards as well.

Wider perspective on the world around, deeper understanding of varied subjects, better use of all human faculties, putting spare time to productive use, developing mental focus,

enhancing cognitive skills, reaching fresh levels of understanding on specific disciplines, enabling in the fruitful task of self-renewal and mastering the ability to become a self-taught scholar all spring from the fountain of this one habit of taking to life-long learning.

“Every three or four years I pick a new subject. It may be Japanese art; it may be economics. Three years of study are by no means enough to master a subject but they are enough to understand it.So, for more than 60 years I have kept studying one subject at a time,” said Peter Drucker, the father of modern management who lived up to a ripe age of 95 years, a testament to the fact that the one committed to life-long learning, reaps not only the bountiful rewards of continual learning, but also has a long life!

(Published 28 April 2014, 20:02 IST)

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