Why do we learn?

I recently started off my Bachelor’s course in Mass Communication, eventually specializing in Audio Visual Production. When one thinks about Mass Communication, one conjures up an image relating to all the various mega platforms that communicate to the masses: movies, newspapers, news channels, music, documentaries, advertisements and more. As a student, you would be expected to study all of this. And with this image in mind, I had enrolled for this course, and I got way more than I had signed up for.

It has been almost a week, and I have already been through lectures on Marketing, Political Science, Communicology, Sociology and my all time favorite discipline, History. When I realized I was going to have History in my curriculum, I was more than thrilled. Even more so when I discovered that I would also be having courses on Art.

I would have been less surprised had I reviewed the entire course curriculum, but I guess this has helped surprise in the most delightful way!

Coming to the title of this article, learning is a creative and developmental process that involves exposure to new experiences, information, actions and senses. Being a Science student until the end of 12th grade(what would be High School in the Western cultures), I was quite used to learning a mishmash of new things, much of which is now forgotten. But certain things like History, Geography, Philosophy, Linguistics and others, which have always interested me, as a result of influence of brilliant teachers in my school life and personal motivation, have stuck with me. Studying Fine Arts for the better part of 2014, I realized that my interest lies primarily in Art. Yet, my curiosity in Astrophysics and Biology did not diminish and lately I have even taken to an interest in Finance and Economics.

I asked my self, ‘Why do I learn all of this?’

Most of these subjects will never contribute to my professional life. They are for self knowledge, and would never amount to anything more than personal satisfaction. I might be interested in History, but is it guaranteed that my knowledge in History would enable me to make a difference? Will my ability to speak various languages truly help me contribute to globalization? In my opinion, Politics is a load of bull crap that keeps going in circles. Yet, even the most common man takes an interest in Politics, despite knowing deep down that his understanding of the subject is simply negligible for him to even properly and in the right mind cast a vote for his political party of choice.

I believe one can live life in two distinct ways. You could forget about the world’s worries and learn to enable yourself to chase fame, glory, money and other pleasures of humanity. Or you could decide to do something with your life by understanding the world and trying making a difference. Of course, most of us have overlapping attributes, including me.

Yet, if we are more inclined towards understanding and making a difference, why do we learn despite knowing it will never be enough?

Why do we try to understand this complex world?

I often asked myself these questions, and I often thought about the need to ask these questions. Sometimes, despair would take over and only sleep and time could bring me back to normal life.

I still have not come up with a concrete answer, but I believe that the answer lies somewhere in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, who is believed to have said:

    ‘The more I live, the more I am convinced that we learn not to live, but to die’


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