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The Learning GapI was having lunch with a colleague of mine who is retiring in a few days. “So, what will you do with all your free time now?” I asked her. “I’m going to take a course or a class.” She replied. “I don’t know what course or what class, but I know I love to learn. So I will be spending some of my time doing what I really love- learning.” It was at that moment that I realized the great gap that exists between generations- not an achievement gap, but a love for learning gap.
I too love to learn. What’s not to love? There is always something new to explore, a new challenge, new information to enjoy, exciting facts to ponder. Learning something new teaches us more about ourselves. Our education doesn’t end with a diploma or degree. We are all works in progress, continually morphing, adapting, ebbing and flowing and learning is a necessary component to that life long process. The “gap”, as I see it, exists between the generations that grew up with an enthusiasm for life long learning and the generations who are now growing up with an enthusiasm for life long entertainment. All the tech toys, the internet, the social network sites- how much of it is for educational purposes versus entertainment factors? Applications, iphones, video games- those industries are thriving because the generations that utilize those devices and technologies are the very generations who have made entertainment a higher priority than education.
In ancient Greece the scholars and philosophers were held in society’s highest regard. Their industry was one of knowledge. Historically, learning and formal education especially was respected, revered and compensated. Today it is entertainers, professional sports players and tech wizards who are held in supreme esteem. We have discounted learning by creating technological shortcuts to just about everything; we have taken the wonder and joy out of real learning and have replaced it with a misaligned emphasis on standardized test scores.
What will happen to the generations of today when they retire? Will they still have video games to play? Apps? Will they still be able to use them at an advanced age? Will technology continue to feed the need for constant entertainment or will they realize that they missed out on a life long love for learning that will be too late to recover?