Forget the cover-ups, wrinkle creams, and cosmetic surgeries. To stay young, form the habit of Constant Learning. Education is a virtue that guarantees youthfulness.
Wisdom is not the province of the old.
Four hundred years after Ponce de Leon searched for the fabled Fountain of Youth, Henry Ford discovered its secret. Youth is not conferred by the waters of a mystical spring, but by a lifelong commitment to learning.
In an article in the April 2012 “AARP Bulletin,” veteran journalist Bill Moyers shares his thoughts “On Not Growing Old.” Approaching his 80th birthday, the host of PBS’ weekly program “Moyers & Company,” talks with humor about his failed attempts to retire and the curiosity that keeps him working. Moyers says, “Retirement, I’ve heard, can be the enemy of longevity.”
Empirical evidence of the benefits of lifelong learning is now being proved scientifically. Using brain imagery to record brain activity, scientists are finding that new learning enhances cognitive development at any age and plays a role in generating new brain cells.
People often say that everyone can learn. Yet the reality is that everyone does learn. Every person is born with a brain that functions as an immensely powerful processor. Traditional schooling, however, often inhibits learning by discouraging, ignoring, or punishing the brain’s natural learning processes.
The human brain is the best organized, most flexible, and highest functioning object in the known universe. We ask, “How is it that collective actions inside a three pound, 2-millimeter thick organ composed of over one trillion brain cells, 100 billion of them neurons, with vast ensembles of neural circuits numbering in the hundred of millions, intricate wide-area networks crisscrossing the brain, with a large number of strangely shaped sub-cortical structures housed just beneath the cerebral cortex, all work together giving rise to children who learn, walk, talk, think, memorize, invent wild stories, do long division, and develop an astounding catalogue of other phenomenal and uniquely human capabilities?”
Our contemporary schools are based on a model that is approximately 140 years old. However, the human brain has been in existence, in varying developmental stages, somewhere in the evolutionary neighborhood of 4.2 million years. Why do we try to force-fit millions of years of brain development into a set of 140 year-old flawed educational practices?
Each brain in the world is physically unique in its patterns of physical connections resulting from the experience and learning of each individual.
We all regularly demand “body compatible” chairs that match our body contours comfortably and hand-compatible tools for our work. Why then, don’t we also insist on “brain-compatible schools” for our children? Taking advantage of the vast knowledge reservoir from neuroscience will surely advance parenting and education in the 21st Century.
One of the more interesting discoveries is that our brains do a learning flip-flop as we grow older. When we are young, repeating a task excites brain activity and increases cognitive fluency as learning is reinforced. As we age, our brain benefits less from repeated experience. Eventually our brains seem to become bored with repetition and brain activity slows. But feed a mature brain something new and our brains light up with activity. Perhaps this is why so many of us were unfulfilled at work?
Collectively, we represent the very first group of parents and educators in the history of the world, who are in a position to take advantage of this dazzling new information. The extent to which we put this valuable science to good use hinges largely upon the honest commitment made by those parents and educators who understand and appreciate what is occurring inside the human brain, when it is engaged in that neuro-anatomical event we call “learning.”
Below is a list of some suggestions for small practices you could implement into your “learning” lifestyle. I would not expect anybody to do all of these things every single day, but you can choose a few, and keep your learning varied and fun!
At first it may seem overwhelming, but after a few months of this you will reach a point where suddenly you feel like have access to so much more information and knowledge than you ever had before. Simple conversations and discussions with people become so much more interesting. Your brain becomes a very cool place to hang out!
1. Watch a TED talk every day.
2. Read a random article of interest from www.howstuffworks.com every day.
3. Read for half an hour every day before bed.
4. Learn more about your job.
5. Make learning something you do for “fun”.
6. Work on a puzzle every day.
7. Read classics.
8. Play www.freerice.com for a few minutes every day.
9. Learn a new word every day.
10. Watch Documentaries.
11. Follow some interesting blogs.
12. Take a class.
13. Learn a new language.
14. Take up a new hobby / put more effort into your current hobby.
15. Try new recipes.
16. Practice memory games.
17. Read the headlines.
18. Whenever you are making a trip somewhere, or doing something new – take the time to learn a little bit about it.
19. Discover what you may stumble upon when you StumbleUpon!
20. Discover Lumosity
21. Play agoogleaday.com
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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