Learning is a life-long process.
But the rate at which we learn decreases as we grow older.
Children are fast learners. Under normal circumstances, a child can learn 4-5 languages from a very early childhood without getting confused.
I used to be an average Indian kid – but by the time I was 5, I could converse in 3 languages – English, Hindi (the defacto lingua franca of most Indians) and Bengali (my mother tongue).
I know an Andhra (or maybe Telangana) guy who was born in Kerala and who later moved to Chennai during his childhood and he knows 4 languages (English, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil). But despite staying in Mumbai for many years during his career as a financial analyst, he was not able to pick up more than a smattering of Hindi.
No doubt, dying cells (as we age) don’t help with the learning process. But is there something else to this?
There is. And that is Fear.
Children are born fearless.
They have no inhibitions.
They are eager to learn and experience new things.
They are eager to experiment.
They are always on the lookout for new hacks.
And boy, do they learn.
They pick up myriad information from different sources, analyze them with an open mind that is free of pre-conceived notions and sythesize them to come up with some brand new conclusion never imagined before.
A normal child keeps on asking “Why?” to every question and is not afraid to dig deeper. It is we, the parents and elders who instil fear and caution in them by telling them about ghosts and gods and demons. We project our deficiences and bad habits onto them and stunt their relentless pursuit of truth.
It is we, the parents and society at large, who make our children fearful.
And that is when they stop learning in the true sense. They stop asking “Why”, they feel afraid to synthesize, they start experiencing the dread of ridicule and embarassment. Their core of infinite potential, boundless beauty and innocence, starts getting covered by a thick veil of counter-productive emotions.
If we, as a race are to truly become extra-ordinary we must lose all our inhibitions and think like children when we tackle unsolvable problems. And that can only happen when we are absolutely fearless.
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