Thursday, June 18, 2009

Don't Learn Anything Today

E was watching PBS this morning, and I walked in the room at the end of a segment. A woman was saying "You just learned something new! Wasn't that fun!" I had to roll my eyes. Do they really think that anyone could actually *avoid* learning something new all the time? Seriously. Try it some time.

I almost typed that you couldn't avoid learning something new unless you were locked in a box, but I think that's not even true. Imagine what one could learn in solitary confinement. How does it feel to be alone? Physically, mentally, emotionally. Is this room big enough to walk in? Run in? Can I relieve stress by working out? Or maybe I don't have enough energy for that. Not enough food? How does lasting hunger feel? Will my body adjust to that? What does each precious bite of food taste like? The texture? The smell? What time of day is it? Can I tell by watching the little bit of sun come through the cell window? How many days has it been? If I stay really quite can I hear the person in the next cell? I'll think about past experiences and conversations. What could I have said differently? Done differently?

When I woke up this morning, I didn't decide to learn anything new. And it hasn't been a particularly mentally stimulating sort of day. But as I think back on it, I've learned quite a few new things. I learned how to transplant lettuce. I learned that it needs water every day, and so do the strawberries, but the tomatoes will be ok for a few days. The British nickname for Nasturtiums (which are edible flowers) is "nasties." Saint Francis didn't wear shoes. A new study has been conducted which shows that the cord wrapped around a baby's neck in utero isn't usually dangerous. D's second favorite holiday is 4th of July. His favorite is Thanksgiving. There are several different kinds of epoxy. Target doesn't sell large bandages, but they do have maps of Europe for $1. Diaper cream needs to be kept out of E's reach or it could end up in L's hair. The library has a lost and found. My niece's ballet class is out for the summer. My sister knows what she wants to do when she grows up.

That's just a small portion. I learned a lot more subconsciously or things that I don't recall at the moment, but they will come to me when I need them.

I challenge you to try it sometime. Don't learn anything new for a day. That means you can't talk to anyone, read anything, use the computer, play any games, watch any tv or go anywhere. And don't do anything where you might make a mistake. After all, those are usually the best learning experiences.


  1. I totally agree with you. *thumbs up* :) And I learned some things from reading your blog entry. Thanks! :D

  2. I have to keep doing things or I get too distracted with all the contemplation that goes on in my head... talk about learning how to think and a learning about different ways to look at things, learning to analyze ;)

  3. I find I learn to analyze my days events if I don't have any project, person or reading material to distract me. Its not possible to not learn... I think thats the point of solitary confinement... to learn from your mistakes... by having plenty of time to think them over.

  4. Well, I wasn't saying I think solitary confinement is a good thing. I actually don't think solitary or any other punishment is useful- it only teaches the person to avoid getting caught. I just meant that even in the most horrible conditions with very little mental stimulation, one could still learn something.