Summer is here, and kids everywhere are bursting out of the classroom with glee. They can’t wait to jump into the pool, play ball with their friends, and forget about the Causes and Effects of World War II.
I remember that feeling well.
But I also remember a point, a few years after college, when I realized I could just decide to learn about something. For the pure joy of understanding something new. For the happiness of unexplored territories in my brain. For the Trivial Pursuit points.
We’re so lucky to live in a time when the world’s knowledge is literally in our laps. I can use my little MacBook Air to visit the Louvre, find out what cryptocurrency is, or learn Italian.
I actively seek out opportunities like that because it helps to punch through the comfort zone of the familiar.
Although there doesn’t have to be a reason for learning new things, it definitely helps me in my work life. A richer inner life leads to richer conversations, stronger relationships, and more empathy for the people I encounter day-to-day.
Last year, I participated in a book trade through Facebook, in which you were to send a favorite book to someone on a list, and you would receive several books back from others who were participating. It was thrilling to receive a stack of books that strangers found important in some way. There was fiction, non-fiction, and several books I never would have thought to pick up on my own (The Birth of the Modern, anyone?). It was fantastic.
I dearly hope someone starts a book trade again this year. And if you’re invited into one, say yes.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you are probably a lifelong learner already. Let’s enjoy the adventure of life together!
Online Resources for Lifelong Learning
Khan Academy – I’m currently doing “Pixar in a Box, the Art of Storytelling.” This site is free, but you can donate to support their work. Lots of subjects are offered, including math, science, and humanities.
MasterClass Online – Would you like to learn comedy from Steve Martin? (Yes I would.) For about $90, you can have at-will access to classes ranging from fashion (Diane Von Furstenberg) to novel writing (James Patterson). Students get video content, workbooks, a community, and tools specific to the course as well.
Duolingo – Abbondanza! There are so many languages available for free on this engaging site that you might have trouble deciding which one to pursue. I’ve brushed up my college Spanish, and learned enough bits of Irish to make my grandmother proud.
Codecademy – If you’d like to be a bit nerdier, Codecademy offers simple courses for various coding languages. I can vouch that it’s user-friendly; I did the HTML/CSS course a couple of years ago and it was a great foundation.
eHow – Escaping the bounds of traditional courses, eHow includes “how to make bacon jam,” and “how to make a round towel.” Each mini-tutorial is contributed by members of the site, so quality can vary, but in terms of browsing around to find something interesting to learn, it’s gold.
What are you learning right now? Please share your resources in the comments, too, so we can all learn along and live life to the fullest.
Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee