Cultivate Your Habits of Learning

I grew up in one of those wonderful families where when a question came up, then out came the big dictionary or the encyclopedia or the atlas or all three to try to figure the answer.

My mother told me that when she was a kid on Sunday's after church they'd come home, break out the Interpreter's Bible and look at the different ways the particular pieces of scripture quoted that day had been translated and discussed over time.

One of my fond memories of my grandfather, her father, is his insatiable thirst for knowledge and particularly for the origin of words and idiomatic expressions. Many times since his death I've encountered something and wished I could share it with him or ask him if he's heard about it; those moments make me sad, but also happy because I know I'm celebrating a curiosity about life that is a great memorial to him.

When you say to yourself "Hmm, I wonder…" don't just stop there; see if you can learn the answer.

With the web we've got so many great and easy to use resources, there's just no excuse not to keep stretching your brain every day.

For example, I was just wondering if seltzer water and club soda and soda water are all the same thing. Well here's the Wikipedia article on carbonated water. They are the same, it turns out, but different ones may have differing amounts of added salts, including none at all. Reading further though, I discover a paragraph about the discovery of a method of carbonation by Joseph Priestley in the course of various experiements and that reminds me of an amazing painting I saw in London: Experiment on a Bird in the Airpump. Reading further I find a link to the transcript of a marvelous NPR interview with the last seltzer delivery man in New York City. Now when I pour some bubbly water I'll probably think about the way people still 250 years later have such varied reactions to science or perhaps about Trafalgar Square or about paintings with a particular quality of light or about New York or about old people's kitchens and the things they make for you or about changing professions. How marvelous a transformation to make on an ordinary old can of seltzer water!

Author: dinahsanders

Author. Discardian. Defender of life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness. she/her

2 thoughts on “Cultivate Your Habits of Learning”

  1. When using any sources but particularly those on the open internet, don’t forget to cultivate those critical thinking skills as well: just because wikipedia says so doesn’t make it true, and biases can creep into “objective” reference books. I don’t mean to discourage anyone from learning! Just double- and triple-check the info before you use it or share it.
    Here’s a great example of an error being accepted as fact, regarding a quote supposedly by Benjamin Franklin:
    http://www.futureofthebook.com/stories/storyReader$605

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  2. The best part about seeking knowledge and researching is when you have friends with common intellects who do the same and you can discuss what you have learned. It keeps you young, makes you interesting to others and is very mentally satisfying.

    Like

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