Foundational knowledge > current events

Learning how to learn isn’t taught enough. I think it’s a major problem.

I’m a proud autodidact.

Actually, I think that word is odd because fundamentally we’re all self-taught because at some level learning is a self-made decision. We all have to choose to open ourselves up to new concepts even when we’re in school. Anyway, that’s another topic.

My motivation for this post is merely to publish my firmly-held belief that foundational knowledge is far more important than current events.

In high school, it’s easy to get swept up in memorization. It’s easy to understand learning as textbooks made up of chapters. So much is thrown at you and little is done to teach you what to really focus on.

Maybe there should be a class you take called “Learning 101.” In it, you’d learn more about the relationship between all the subjects in the world and how these fields of study were born.

You’d also learn to ALWAYS look for the foundational truths that bind a subject together — in addition to the ways this subject is a parent, cousin or child of other subjects.

Learning is about cracking this code of foundational knowledge behind a subject. And understanding subject-matter relationships.

I wish more time was spent on this when I was a teenager, a time to say, “Okay, let’s just ignore the textbook for a second and look at the history of mathematics and why numbers are the world’s universal language and bind together everything and give you a framework to understand the world.”

To be fair, I had some great teachers and some probably did say something like this at some point but, if this is the case, I am talking about and advocating for much more time spent on it.

Or: “Before we start any specific history let’s spend a good amount of time really understanding evolution and time scales of the universe so you always know that the all the info we’re about to throw at you and all the people and wars all actually took place in the past 10,000 years and that’s actually an insignificant amount of time, cosmically!”

This foundational understanding makes learning easier and more exciting, always.

It’s like writing software: If you understanding some core concepts you can apply them to everything and learn new languages and techniques quickly. Without this foundational understanding, however, you’re in trouble.

As a parent one day, hopefully, I’ll be sure to focus more on helping my children understand it’s okay to ignore the news and current events if it gives them more time to understand the foundational truths.

We can’t make decisions about the importance of the news and current events without these things.

Powerful understanding comes not from rote memorization but from the ability to always look for the core foundational element to anything — and then better understand its relationship to other things.

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