It is with a heavy sigh that I say the words everyone is sick of hearing: back to school.
I’m no longer in school, and still, the day after Labour Day arrives each year with the sudden harsh realization that the end of summer has truly arrived and the promise of “really buckling down this year.” Even the thought of buckling down makes me cackle in a way that would launch popcorn from my mouth if I were watching stand-up comedy on Netflix.
I’m not saying that’s how I spend my days, but perhaps more accurately, how I spend my nights.
I laugh at the students getting up early and having to go learn something and be better and grow and mature and socialize. I can stay in the darkness of my cave and save the galaxy from invading synthetic aliens that want to destroy civilization. I can also spend weeks scouring the Internet and the public library for everything about space from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Zeta Orionis. Meanwhile those same children have to go to math class, or endure healthy physical activity – all running in circles.
What I’m getting at is that just because I am no longer in the educational system doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped learning.
I’m sure the library can tell you that my holds take up most of a shelf when I go in to claim them. The public library is ridiculously amazing when it comes to learning about anything, even when you don’t have any idea what you want to know. Just exploring a section about art can teach you about everything from classical art history to modern zines to anything in between.
The natural way to learn about something is to want to learn about it. In my case, flying around space in Mass Effect made me wonder if mathematically faster-than-light travel and communication were plausible. (The answer is naw, not really, but time dilation and other illusions of the observer help make it seem possible.)
The issue at hand is this: When can I make time to learn? The answer is, always. Always be learning. Read a book on the bus to and from work. Spend that hour you were on Facebook or Twitter on Wikipedia instead. I’m not saying overhaul your life. Just lean in the direction you want to learn.
Whether you want to teach yourself a language (hint: it’s hard when there’s no one to talk to – why not take a class?) or learn about propulsion mechanical engineering, just because there’s no set time and schedule, no official teacher in front of you, doesn’t mean you can’t expand your horizons. Making the time is all you really need. After that, it’s just like school. Except usually with less tests and homework. (Though it is sometimes beneficial to write an essay or summary of what you just studied to keep it fresh. Just a thought.)
In any case, maybe since it’s September it’s time to turn the iced coffee hot and time to switch on the TED Talks.