Tuesday, September 16, 2003

A lesson from bugs 

Have you ever kept goldfish?

My wife did once, and sometimes used to feed them live daphnia. I'm afraid my zoology isn't up to telling you exactly what daphnia are, except that they're tiny bug-like creatures (probably larvae of some sort) that live in fresh water and get eaten by bigger creatures.

If you put the daphnia in a jar and watch them, all their swimming motion seems to be generally upwards. If they stop, they slowly drift to the bottom of the jar.

I often think learning is like that. If I expect learning to be something that just happens as life goes along (and I'm talking about general life-learning here, not simply academic knowledge-cramming) then progress is slow and random. In fact, without effort to maintain it, learning dissipates, like the daphnia sinking to the bottom of the jar.

Learning doesn't come without effort, and a constant attitude of willingness to make the effort. So, like the daphnia in the jar, I need constantly to remind myself to keep swimming; to be on the look-out for learning; to seek out, capture and hold those moments of insight; to question, to challenge, to take risks.

I'm hoping that a blog will be a good place in which to try and crystallise some of that learning.

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