As I gear up to again educate myself, diving headfirst into the bibliomania of law school, this is a subject I’ve been thinking quite a bit about. What is it that makes people smart? If I can read and absorb the reading pretty fast, does that make me a better learner? Is it memory that makes intelligence? Or the selective application of knowledge? Is Bloom’s Taxonomy really right? How the heck did my team win third place at trivia last night when all of my teammates don’t know stuff? Was it all strategic guesing and tactically applied point values? Do we learn from example, or experimentation, or practice?
A part of my thinking springs from this post. While I appreciate the language of old textbooks, the value of a Classical education, and the ancestry of words, I am a product of my time. I absorb patterns, broad concepts, and methods. I don’t memorize well, but I research very well indeed. Long lectures don’t hold my attention, but I can process multiple streams of information at once. I work best when I have a distraction.
What does this all mean? Are we moving faster, our spastic educational system a sign of our inability to sit still? Can you really learn speedily, and when do you reach a limit of diminishing returns? What is the point of a workbook with an answer key? Is the motivation for understanding genetic, or imparted from the outside world at an early age? What makes someone stop being curious? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, and why do we value the search for answers when an ultimate solution seems so much less interesting?