I’m currently learning a new language, only it’s not the kind that I can speak (or use hand signs with). What I’m learning is a programming language which I’ll use later to build apps for smartphones. Like all languages, I find that it’s equally important to know what to learn as it is to know how to learn. Today, I was looking at some numbers unrelated to programming and I wanted to add them up to find the total but just as I was about to click on the Calculator application on my laptop, I stopped myself because of a single thought. “How could I figure this out using a Text Editor (where programmers write code)?”
In effect, I was struck by my insatiable curiosity and decided to challenge myself to write some otherwise simple (I’m not good enough for it to be easy) code to figure out the total. The same curiosity can be leveraged when learning spoken languages, too. For example, if you needed to know the name for “car” in Portuguese, and you picked up a dictionary to look it up, it’s likely that once you knew the word, you’d go about your business. However, if you’re curious enough, you can ask yourself how you might also say the word for something found within a car, like a steering wheel (volante), or the word for another type of transportation, like a boat (barca), or even another word nearby “carro” in the dictionary, such as “carta” (letter). Even better, how would you say “I’m going by car to deliver a letter”? I’ve found these are the kinds of questions that help me advance.
In a slightly unrelated example, I recently happened to see the workout routine for actors from the film “300” where their trainer stressed the importance of changing things up every day. There’s something positive to be said for concise, structured lessons but, since people learn in different ways, there’s also the possibility that your curiosity might lead you to train your brain in ways you’re unaccustomed to. As long as you keep learning, that’s what matters.
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