Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

The Bitter Truth Of Lifelong Learning

Passively watching and reading educational content is not learning. It’s self amusement.

The reason Ted Talks get millions of views is the same why we constantly check our phones for new texts and emails. 

Dopamine.

For every new fact you give it, the brain releases a wave of chemical bliss. Devouring information feels great.

No wonder Instagram feeds, Slack mentions and YouTube clips so easily steal our attention.

But not all information is equal. 

Most people don’t want to know more about electromagnetism, the details of our civil rights, or what’s happening in Beirut.

And the brain is to blame.

If it isn’t easily digestible or doesn’t uphold your beliefs, the cerebrum doesn’t want to know. 

Which is why most of our knowledge is so superficial. 

The majority of adults know the 8 planets of our Solar System, but not how the Earth spins around its axis. Everyone can turn on the microwave, but hardly anyone can explain how it works.

The grey matter inside our skull doesn’t actually like to think. Plus, it has a poor memory.

Think back to the latest book of non-fiction you read. Can you accurately repeat its contents? Probably not.

That’s because our noggin doesn’t process information through passive reading. Watching and listening doesn’t lead to learning either.

We only learn by actively engaging with subjects we are genuinely interested in.

In short, learning starts with curiosity.

How do you stay curious when it gets tough?

With pop culture.

Coca Cola, Breaking Bad, The Beatles, McDonalds, Trump, Star Wars, “Just do it”… A common language almost everyone shares. 

To stay motivated about auxiliary verbs, integer divisions and deoxyrbonucleic acid, we want to link these clinical terms to subjects we already enjoy and understand.

Like sports.

Neil deGrasse Tyson famously taught the world a lesson in astrophysics with a Tweet about american football. The reason it worked?

The audience already knew the sport, so everyone’s attention could be spent on understanding the teaching. And because the readers cared about football, they cared about the earth’s rotation that helped score the winning goal.

If you care about Game of Thrones, hearing that a mix of boric acid, methanol and glow sticks creates Wildfire doesn’t feel like a lecture.

Connecting science to popculture is only a stepping stone to the curiosity threshold.

Study a dull subject often enough and it becomes as interesting as a new episode of Stranger Things.

Do you write and read articles about a specific field?

Forget the pop references. You’re a self learner.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach