Passive Learning versus Instant Gratification

Some weeks ago I had a conversation with a former educator turned Spanish interpreter. He had something quite remarkable to say. On my own failure to complete my Spanish language education years ago and really master the language, I said it sure would be nice to finish that now. He said, “well, couldn’t you?” Of course I had something boring to say like I couldn’t find the time. 

He told me that adults we often expect ourselves to get things right away. He said we get discouraged and stop learning. We resist learning because it’s difficult. And then he enlightened me: Children don’t learn that way. Children are passive learners. They listen and they ask questions. They learn little by little with no expectation that they’re going to know it all any time soon. So, for example, as opposed to taking classes or buying into a program, I could just turn on Spanish radio and listen, see what kinds of words and sounds I heard most often, how sentences were structured, and learn slowly.

I can’t promise I’ll complete my Spanish language education, but I can promise I was reminded of a simple topic I’ve touched on in Cultural Literacy. We must be willing to learn and adapt to meet our goals. If unwilling to look at things from different angles and make progress in whatever form, all we’re left with are lame excuses and unfinished projects.

(But really, I just can’t find the time!)

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