September has returned once again and classes have begun for both children and adults. Having worked in a school for a quarter century, I remember how exciting it was for students to reconnect with friends they hadn’t seen over the summer and to share what had been going on in their world. But, for the grade ones, it was the most thrilling time of all (after they got over leaving their parents for the day). Their beautiful gap-toothed smiles and infectious giggles reminded us all of the delights they expected to find in learning new things. Each day was another step on the road to discovering a wider world, inside the covers of a book, listening to a speaker or viewing a screen in front of them. They shared these discoveries with whomever might be going by; the custodian, an older student, a visiting parent or another classmate. For them, these findings had just been made and were to be pooled so that everyone might have the knowledge which they had recently made their own. A wonderful community of learners existed in this atmosphere and is one which should continue throughout each person’s life.
I think, as adults, we become a bit jaded concerning our own learning and perhaps these enthusiastic six year olds might give us an example to live by. Never in our lifetimes can we absorb all the knowledge available to us but we can approach each new day as an opportunity to add to the data base we already have. We should credit people of all ages with assisting us on this quest for lifelong learning. As a librarian, many of my students expected me to have a vast array of general knowledge (not as much a Google though). Their questions offered me constant notice of how little I really know about the world I live in but gave me an opportunity to find out more about it. With a philosophy of “everyone a teacher and everyone a learner”, I am still delighted when my grandson presents some detail that I didn’t know (did you know that the average human large intestine is over five feet long?).
Meeting the challenges of work, parenting, budget decisions, appointments, and other demands on our busy schedules may seem to leave little time for expanding our horizons. But there are many adages about what a “busy person” can accomplish. Lifelong learning prompts us daily not to become puffed up with our own importance since we have many more lessons to come. One of my friends (who is in her early seventies) is just learning to knit and another uses YouTube to do her minor home repairs. The grade ones reminded us that lessons learned need not always be on a level with the “Theory of Relativity” but relatively speaking each new theory raises our knowledge another level and it’s good for your self-esteem as well. Celebrate your ability to think and understand and then share it with someone. That way you will both be smarter!