Columnist learns to love learning



I recently stumbled across a quote from American author and philosopher Vernon Howard that says, “Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.” This particular quote struck me because it closely represented a working concept I have been developing: the mind as the most important muscle in the body. Of course a physiology professor would sharply correct me in this idea, but I speak figuratively. To explain: when a person continues to challenge themselves with new processes and ideas to learn, they exercise their mind and keep it in shape, much like the rest of the human body. But since the mind is not visible, it is a lot harder to see the results of a mental workout schedule as opposed to a physical one. It is very easy to feast on mental junk food such as internet surfing and video games, those things that create quick and simple mental stimuli and mental rewards—though in the long term, looking at cat pictures and leveling up that new character in a video game do as much good as eating donuts and drinking soda.

This is why I propose finding a new love in life: learning. Learning is available everywhere and can be found in anything. While sitting in class is the obvious place to learn, try searching the other areas of your life. What do the people in your house or dorm have to teach you? What can you learn from your co-workers, or even from the unknown people surrounding you in the Union? Being inquisitive like this is the first step in building affection for learning. And as your affection develops, so too will your youth, vitality and mental fitness.

All of us here on a college campus with burgeoning technological demands know the two professors: the one who brings his flash drive into class with Power Point presentations, and the one who still has transparencies for the overhead projector. The one who emails you back faster than your best friend responds to texts, and the one who has not uploaded anything more than the syllabus to D2L. While I do not mean to criticize your professors, many of whom are not disinterested in learning but simply focus that interest upon other areas, the example is just a readily available one here on campus. For an older professor who has taught for years with the same methods, it takes a lot to learn about D2L and the internet. But what we see in those professors, who make the effort and succeed, is a dedication and commitment to learning and, in turn, the vitality of youth. They keep themselves young and mentally fit by paying attention to the trends and not allowing themselves to fall behind.

But as I said earlier, the classroom is hardly the only place to learn. You can begin your newfound affection for learning right away: just observe your surroundings and start asking questions. The true learning starts when you begin to devise answers and apply those answers to your understanding of the world. Embrace changes, search for opportunities to expose yourself to new things, and above everything else, always keep in mind the mentality of learning.

Bryce Kummer is a junior studying both political science and economics. He can be emailed at [email protected].