learning when we’re old

Recently I had someone ask me if it’s possible to learn new things once you’re older. The context was specifically creative things; can someone who is past twenty pick up a new instrument or start to draw and become proficient? The answer is easy; yes. I think we make it more complicated because once we’re twenty or so, we’ve usually got jobs and so many things going on that adding something so new isn’t feasible. You’ve got a good (or not) thing going, why throw yourself for a loop?

Personally, I think it’s vital to keep learning new things and hobbies as you get older. It’s been proven that it keeps your brain fit, and I think it can add richness to a life worn out from stagnation. Doing the same thing year after year makes for a very dull boy.

I guess I never thought myself that there was some age at which we lose the capacity to learn. I know that some things do have a short window; being an athlete requires a certain body capability just not present in older people, but for everything else I don’t think there’s anything holding you back.

After all, Harriet Doerr wrote her first novel, Stones for Ibarra, when she was in her seventies, and it won a National Book Award.

Certainly there is an age where we do learn at a rapid pace; when we’re in school, still trying to find out who we want to be and what we want to do, it’s natural to pick up all kinds of things. But the mistake comes, I believe, when we limit ourselves to that admittedly tiny window and then never try anything new again.

Like me for instance. I have a whole slew of stuff I’m learning right now, and the fact that I’m over twenty hasn’t given me any problems thus far.

List of things I’m learning or want to learn;

  • Ukulele
  • Drawing digitally
  • Animation
  • CSS/PHP/other programming languages
  • Korean/Chinese
  • Singing
  • How to be cool (this one, I think, is probably impossible…)


Education Post on Expats Blog

Well, I’ve entered another contest for Expats Blog. This week it’s about Education and International Schools. Check out my post here. I might re-write it for The Flying Armchair later, but for now, check it for some samples of hilarious conversations I’ve had with my students. Adorable little tikes. 

traditional vs online schooling


Living in Taiwan and still needing my BA has gotten me thinking about whether to pursue online schooling or not. There are merits to both online and traditional schooling, but after weighing both options and considering my situation, I have come to the conclusion that traditional schooling is preferable. I believe that for the most part, the decision will be based on the needs of the individual. For some people, online schooling might simply work better. Perhaps their personalities or time constraints require it. However, I do think that traditional schooling has merits that online schooling simply can’t meet. Firstly, it has a location. Yes, this can be a drawback in certain circumstances, but dedicating a specific area for classes, a specific time for them, helps to put my mind in focus. I go to this place; I go to study, to learn, and to concentrate on the task at hand. How many people never get distracted when studying on the computer? It’s practically impossible. In the classroom, there is more incentive to pay attention. The professor is, after all, right in front of you. Similarly, having the professors and advisors within reach has manifold benefits. When you can create a personal relationship, you become more than just another student, more than a name on a form or a grade. Those professors, advisors and financial aid people are supposed to be unbiased in the matter of awards, etc., but when scholarships are based on a quality that many people have, who are they more likely to pick, the student whom they’ve never seen, or the student they know well? Exactly. Those relationships can help expand your network of contacts and potential business opportunities. In my opinion, these are the main reasons why traditional schooling is preferable.