Learning Circus Tricks

I have a theory about learning, and that is that it’s easier to learn when you actually want to.  I think most people would agree with that.

When I was at school, learning just happened.  Sure, there were subjects that I liked more than others and ones that I was interested in more than others, but formal education from the age of 4 to when I finished at 21 felt a lot like it was something that had to happen and was kind of “box ticking” to get it out the way before being an adult started.

At uni, I noticed that the mature students (i.e. the older ones who were attending outside of the formal education timeline) seemed to take a far greater, maybe even more sincere, interest in the subject than those of us who were going because that’s just kinda what you did.

I was actually relieved to leave formal education.  I was asked by two lecturers to do a Masters after my degree.  The Employment Law lecturer asked me to do further study which I found bizarre, because I found Employment boring and it wasn’t like I was a stand out performer in it.

The other subject was Gender Law, on the basis that I once did an amazing essay on Radical Feminist Views On Pornography.  In truth, it was an easy essay cause radical feminism is just weird and wrong.  I didn’t feel like I could look someone straight in the eye and tell them that I mastered in anything relating to porn! (That’s “mastered” academically of course!)

Since formal education, I’ve learnt some things and toyed with learning far more.

At work, I’ve done a few courses and learnt a load of technical stuff that I would never have imagined before I started, given that I didn’t grow up wanting to work in Data Management! I’ve also improved a lot of other transferable skills.  However, it’s outside of work that learning is much more appealing.

I toyed once with learning a circus skill.  I thought about maybe getting a unicycle, but I figured I’d probably hurt myself or someone else, a bit like this guy who was knocked out by a clown and rather unceremoniously and dangerously taken from the stage a few weeks ago.  I learnt to juggle, but that only really gets impressive when you use things like knives and fire and, again, I’m a little accident prone!

I could try to train Moo to jump through hoops, but given how much he detested his new collar over the weekend that might be a no go as well!

The closest I’ve come to learning a circus trick is probably really just a showing off trick.  In the project that I used to work in, there would be times where we would have a good few hours waiting for things to happen and there wasn’t much constructive stuff we could do in the meantime – it was just the nature of what we were doing.  I used this time to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

The thing with the cube, though, is that once you know how to do it it kind of ceases to be an achievement!

I tried learning Italian once.  I bought CDs and everything, with the idea that if I put the CD in the car I could get nearly an hour of practice per day on my way to and from work.  This was going well for a few weeks until I kept thinking of everything in Italian, or at least in an Italian accent! Ironically, it was the accent that finally put me off learning a romance language, because the only way I could sound authentic was by pretending to do an impression of a stereotypical Italian and I would feel like I was insulting them as I was speaking!

I’ve been learning guitar for a while now.  I’d still classify myself as “pretty rubbish” and think I’m probably in need of forking out some money for someone to show me what to do in person rather than just using that fantastic medium that is YouTube.

Recently I’ve started looking at re-entering the classroom formally.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading on subjects that will form the basis of 4000 word post in the next few days and thinking about why people do things and react the way they do.  I’ve found it really interesting so am on the look out for a psychology course that I can get through at the same time as working.

The point of that is that it was something that would never normally have crossed my mind, but it became pertinent, I found it interesting and now I want to know more.  I’m not thinking that I should do the course because it’s the right thing to do or a box to tick, but I actually have a desire for learning or, to use that oft cited phrase, a thirst for knowledge.

In a roundabout way, that desire has come from wanting to learn about why something didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  It’s not learning like the Rubik’s Cube where being able to solve it is the end game, and nor is it like academic learning of facts and figures to pass a test or “just” get a job.  The need for this learning has centered around the fact that I feel like I will get better at a whole lot more if I do it because I’ve noticed an area for possible development.

Some people don’t see that.  They think that they’ve learnt something and therefore that there’s no need to keep trying to learn anymore.  It means that they keep repeating the same thing and sometimes that’s great – when it works.  However, I see people repeat that same thing and don’t learn from it; they just assume that what they’ve learnt in the past is right and so there’s no need to look for continued development.

It’s like the one thing they haven’t learnt is that there’s still more to learn.

Sweet memories
Flashing very quickly by
Reminding me
And giving me a reason why
I know that
My goal is more than a thought
I’ll be there
When I teach what I’ve been taught
And I’ve been taught…

You know we’ve told you before
But you didn’t hear us then
So you still question why
No! You didn’t listen again
You didn’t listen again

Sweet memories
I never thought it would be like this
Reminding me
Just how close I came to missing
I know that
This is the way for me to go
You’ll be there
When you know what I know
And I know…

You know we’ve told you before
But you didn’t hear us then
So you still question why
No! You didn’t listen again
You didn’t listen again

Lessons by Rush

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