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Learning just for the sake of it?

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#16    Ryu


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Posted 26 July 2013 - 03:29 PM

So..once you know whatever it is you learned, then what?
Again, not my intent to be irritating, just asking.

#17    rashore



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Posted 26 July 2013 - 03:46 PM

Then I have that knowledge in my head. Sometimes it gets used, sometimes the concept of the knowledge gets applied to other things, sometimes it serves as a springboard for other information... Sometimes it pops up as random trivia, sometimes it never gets used at all.

#18    Sherapy


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Posted 26 July 2013 - 05:09 PM

View PostRyu, on 26 July 2013 - 01:59 AM, said:

"Learn for the sake of learning"...Society has been chanting this tired and worn out mantra for decades yet I never seen a valid reason for following it.

So far education has been pursued for basically one reason and that is to get a skill for a job or to further ones skills for said job. Basically it is all about the all-mighty "job".

But the so-called experts like to espouse the virtues of learning because it is supposedly a good thing to do, good, at least, for the profit margins of colleges and bookstores.

So I wondered, just why anyone would expend so much time and effort learning something that has no value or use in their real life?
One can easily dismiss the question by flippantly saying that if one is curious then what does it matter?

Ok..fine. But after you have learned Spanish/Japanese/Russian/Swahili, etc then what? After you memorized all the types of butterflies and their migrations, what then? After studying the life cycle of a slug, what will you do with that info?
If you have no real and practical use for any of it whatsoever then what is the point? Brag to your friends that you wasted mega bucks learning something that you will never use?

Is learning just for the heck of it really advisable? Is it even desirable to fill ones head with memorized stuff that means and lends nothing to ones life?

Just musing really.

In the most practical sense learning offers options, ideas, ways to problem solve in ones own personal life. Curiosity is what drives us to seek out other ideas and perspectives, it is what keeps us growth oriented instead of fixed, stuck in patterns. Socially, hands down it is an asset to know a bit about a lot things, having conversations with really versed intelligent people is rewarding in and of itself, personally-- I learn so much this way. I am extremely curious and love to learn and because of this I get opportunities to experience all kinds of things/people. I started home schooling my son in third grade(now a 10th grade High school honor student)  through a charter/ with mentors( I had a lot to learn and did. ) Now, I tutor kids in Algebra and Geometry--paid. I do not think one has to be a book room, one can learn a lot just by having conversations with people. I think everyone has something they are interested in and want to share,  or sees things in  ways that inspire others to want to learn something about it.

Edited by Sherapy, 26 July 2013 - 05:11 PM.

#19    ReaperS_ParadoX


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Posted 26 July 2013 - 09:13 PM

I will say this I do read a TON and still have a love for learning about plants and the environment, so I guess you could say my intelligence level is constantly evolving for the better in certain areas of life, and besides that I was pretty sick as a child so I usually had to stay in and books were my best friend. But I guess you could totally go the other way with this and ask yourself what is the harm of trying to learn more

Edited by R4z3rsPar4d0x, 26 July 2013 - 09:15 PM.



#20    ShadowSot


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Posted 26 July 2013 - 09:28 PM


I guess I just have difficulty with the concept of learning something merely "because".
It just seems a waste of time and energy to learn something that has no value other than saying "Look, I learned how to surf on a pool of pudding." or something.

Why do people do anything they enjoy doing?

For that matter, why learn to play music or paint or do any sort of art, most people don't do it for the sake of reward. They just do it because they enjoy doing it. If you have to have some final end game to do something and therefore learning something new isn't worth it then don't do it.

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#21    JMPD1


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Posted 26 July 2013 - 09:50 PM

View PostRyu, on 26 July 2013 - 03:29 PM, said:

So..once you know whatever it is you learned, then what?
Again, not my intent to be irritating, just asking.

Then go on to learn something else.

Let me ask you:  
Do you play video or computer games?

If the answer is "Yes", then let me ask:
Do you play the same one over & over again, or do you try new ones?

If the answer is "Yes", then let me ask:


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#22    rodentraiser



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Posted 26 July 2013 - 10:55 PM

I don't know what to say to you, Ryu. I love learning new things. In fact, if I could afford to do it, I'd go to college specifically to learn, not necessarily for a degree or a certificate. Will I use every single thing I will learn or have learned? No, but the main reason I like to learn new things is because it's fun. In fact, if I have one skill I can't put on resumes, it's that I am good at learning. I started with the things I like, mainly my hobbies, and moved on from there. When I want to know "Why" or "How" and I find the answer, that's learning. Maybe I just have more curiosity than most people - I don't know. But I do new things to see if I want to learn about them and learn about new things to see if I want to do them. My working life was as boring as all get out. My personal life has always been a blast. I've been told to grow up and act more mature. I've been told people my age outgrow the things I do. I've seen people who haven't learned anything new in the last 40 years and they're as dead and uninteresting as a dry, flat toad in the road. Learning about new things makes my life richer, adds extra dimensions on to the person I already am. I change and I grow. I guess I could say I learn about things for the same reasons people explore and climb mountains. Enjoyment, covering new territory, and because there's things there to be learned. Now if I could only get paid for it somehow.

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#23    Ryu


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Posted 26 July 2013 - 11:09 PM

View PostJMPD1, on 26 July 2013 - 09:50 PM, said:

Then go on to learn something else.

Let me ask you:  
Do you play video or computer games?

If the answer is "Yes", then let me ask:
Do you play the same one over & over again, or do you try new ones?

If the answer is "Yes", then let me ask:


Yeah..I occasionally play games. Why? I don't know. Guess staring at a wall makes my eyes cross.

Do I try new ones? Rarely. Why? I don't know. Guess I figure they'll just get boring anyways just like everything else.

#24    redhen



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Posted 26 July 2013 - 11:29 PM

The novelty seeking drive is right up there with the primary drives; thirst, hunger, sleep and sex. It's what we (humans) do. Obviously some people are more prone to novelty seeking than others, but it's a trait of any normal functional human being. It's what causes us to become stir crazy when stripped of any mental stimulation and what's drives us to explore the sciences and humanities.

#25    Jinxdom


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Posted 27 July 2013 - 01:38 AM

Most of the things I learn about are simply out of curiousity of something that I see or something that I want to do.. Each new thing I learn gives me access to more things I may not even knew existed beforehand and that gets me curious so I decide to keep going. Gives me a wider perspective of the world and breaks up the monotony of thinking about the same things over and over, not to mention when you learn more you can go out and do more.

#26    RabidCat


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Posted 27 July 2013 - 04:07 AM

Ah, yes.  Learn this and that.  Because it should be done.

The greatest problem with learning anything is that learning can get in the way of and be detrimental to the functions of reason and logic, along with, in some cases, warping reality.  It occurs to me that in my many years of engineering, having interacted with thousands of people in my field, ranging from relatively low (2 yr college) educational levels to extremely high levels, those most guilty of the preceding are those who seldom leave the environs of university.  Somehow, all that advanced education (learning) seems to stunt the mental growth of many individuals, who become unable to construct logical thought patterns.

In short, those mentioned are unable to think differently than what is required.  So, anything that is extraordinary to what they've learned becomes an impossibility; further, the great increase in knowledge of some particular subject (and being recognized as an "expert") further decreases the ability to think.  Let me elucidate with an example, following:

Some years ago, I tuned in to a channel (I've forgotten which, Discovery, NatGeo, Sci) featuring an archaeological (supposedly) examination of Machu Picchu, done by one archaeologist and utilizing opinion of another, supposedly a world-renowned expert on Inca civilization.  This expert was a tenured prof at Illinois (Chicago).  While these two were walking the grounds, they came to that area that many consider a sacrificial place, with large stone table complete with drains and so forth.  The expert was asked his thoughts as to the use of the place, and he expressed that it must have been used for the sacrifice of guinea pigs.  Further explanation was that the Inca believed that if guinea pigs were sacrificed, they would somehow refrain from becoming rabbits that would eat and otherwise wreak havoc on the Inca crops.

So the questions are: keeping in mind that this was a city built at 8,000 ft with stones weighing many tons, many transported over distance, and this Inca civilization was well versed in astronomy, as well as math and engineering, is it logical to believe this expert that the Inca harbored the belief that by killing guinea pigs at the solstice, this would appease the God of Guinea Pigs and these magical guineas would then be prevented from shape-shifting into terrifying, insatiable rabbits that would bring famine to the residents of Machu Picchu?  Personally, I don't give much of a rat's butt how educated he is, such illogical thoughts smack more of a distended gut than rational thought.

As I always told those students in my classes in electronics, do not think within normal boundaries.  As education increases, flexibility decreases, since the "laws" become lesser gods, and great care must be taken to keep it all in perspective.  Remember, the earth used to be flat, and the center of the universe.

That's all, folks.

#27    GreenmansGod


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Posted 27 July 2013 - 07:45 AM

I never rely on TV for my archeology or science. TV shows are fun but they usually don't get it quite right, but the guy almost got it right. I don't know where he got the rabbit story, but there is evidence they sacrificed guinea pigs. People do all kinds of illogical stuff for holidays, like dragging a pine tree into the house.    Good advice, though, experience in the real world brings wisdom,  but most important is be careful where you get your information.


Archaeological evidence shows guinea pigs were domesticated in Peru as far back as 2500 B.C., and had deep cultural and religious significance. Guinea pigs are still a common tool of ritual healers, or “curanderos,” who use the animals to diagnose illnesses.
A 17th century native chronicler, Guaman Poma de Ayala, wrote that the Incas sacrificed 1,000 white guinea pigs along with 100 llamas in Cuzco’s main plaza each July “so that neither the sun nor the waters would harm the food and the fields.”
From the beginning of the Spanish colonization, the Catholic Church brutally suppressed Indian religious icons. But the guinea pig was spared.

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#28    Professor T

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 09:46 AM

View PostRyu, on 26 July 2013 - 03:01 PM, said:

I see...
However, at the risk of sounding even more stupid than I already am, how is learning something that is inapplicable to real life enriching.

Let's say I had the misfortune of learning the life cycle of a moth (ok, lame but whatever) then what?
After one spends hours, weeks, months or years learning something that is not usable, then what?

I am not trying to be difficult, I just am trying to understand this particular concept.
Learning is empowering..
Even useless knowledge is empowering because you've learned to perceive it as such.. We all tend to switch off and stop paying attention to adverts when they come on TV, that's because we've learned that it's useless knowledge...

Learning names and dates of historic events, and being able to recite & calculate the Fibonacci sequence is useless information to most unless they're historians or mathematicians.

I think though that what you might be getting at is not so much the learning but how and why we learn. That is a big problem in society as far as I'm concerned.. Learning like you say for the sake of it or just for a Job turns students minds into tools for someone else's agenda..  But learning for the sake of self discovery, and making discoveries about things that truly interest you takes students into a whole new realm where the knowledge they gain is owned by them and means a hell of a lot more than any university can charge for simply because the students own it. A simple Analogy being: being taught about moths means you know some things about them.. But discovering things about moths means you own the moths and they mean more to you..

#29    Ryu


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Posted 27 July 2013 - 11:41 AM

Well, sort of.
We are all told how we are always supposed to be learning this or that because, well, just because.

And while I get the whole "empowering" thing, there still has to be some sort of real payback or reason. Learning Spanish just because you want to is cute but if you have no use for it in real life it becomes just as useless -like you mentioned- as the tv adverts.

I realize there is a difference between passive learning and active learning but it seems that the active path is constantly being promoted yet there is never any reference to what the payoff and use could be especially if you are not in a position to use said information in any meaningful way.

This is why I asked about what is next after one has spent the energy learning something. I mean, for example, if someone spends the energy to learn Spanish then there has to be a reason or use for it. Being interested doesn't seem to be a justification or even present an noticeable return for all that time and energy spent.
Reading a page on moths to satisfy a question seems to present a far better return than to devote months learning something that has no real value.

#30    lightly


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Posted 27 July 2013 - 01:01 PM

Why did you ask this question Ryu?    To learns what others think?   Were you curious?    Why?  lol

Important:  The above may contain errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and other limitations.

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