Alright folks: prepare for stream-of-consciousness writing at it’s finest (You’ve been warned.)
A few months ago, I realized that I really have a problem with developing a firm opinion…about anything. I’ve adopted the strange and extremely lazy habit of listening to other people’s views and forming a second-hand mash-up of an opinion based on who I agree with most. This was a pretty shocking revelation for me because, when I thought about it, I couldn’t tell you my favourite movie or book, my favourite quote, my favourite historical figure…nothing! That also might have to do with the fact that I’m the epitome of indecisiveness, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic. Anyways, ever since that day, I have made a conscious effort to formulate my very OWN opinion about the random topics that my arbitrary mind chooses to think about every day. And today I decided that, in my opinion, learning through a mentor is the absolute best way to learn.
It might sound redundant, but I’m just going to briefly explain what I mean by ‘best’ in this situation. I believe that spending a significant amount of time with a person who is a master at a certain subject will result in the most useful knowledge, being retained for the longest and that is also the easiest to draw upon in the future.
I’ve only really come to realize this during my past year at college. I’m studying wildlife conservation and my instructor is extremely knowledgeable in all areas of the program; but, he is an absolute master when it comes to identifying birds. People from all over the island will call him up for advice or interviews or just general requests for knowledge. Because a lot of time in my program is spent outside, my instructor has the opportunity to spout out random information about these birds and what the field marks for identification are and why they’re doing what they’re doing and so on and so forth. We obviously learned a lot in the classroom too, but it was the information that would come out in casual conversation when he was really in the birding zone that was the most interesting, useful, and memorable.
It really wasn’t until I got home that I realized just how well that information sunk in. I recently took a walk with my parents on a pretty remote trail and the amount of facts that I could spout off to my parents about the different species of plants and animals and diseases was more than I ever thought I would remember. And the knowledge that I remember clearest isn’t the migration patterns that I spent hours staring at attempting to memorize, it’s what we’d talk about and see and experience when we were actually out doing what our instructors were so good at.
I do realize that there are many factors that I’m not considering here, I really do. I know that people learn in different ways and that obviously the more interesting information will stick in my mind better and blah blah blah. But I’m still convinced that this is the best way, at least for me.
My thought process then led me to consider how the education system nowadays has moved so far away from this. If we think back, (and I mean way back, like medieval times back) to the days when certain families in a town were known for certain trades, the father would teach the son everything he knew until eventually the son took over. I’m not going to say that this way is better, because obviously society has progressed this way for a reason, but I will say that it’s more appealing to me personally (maybe just because I think being a swordsmith would be freaking amazing). If, right after high school, I was able to be assigned a wildlife master who knew the most valuable information about all different aspects of nature and just hang out with them while they did their job, I think I would be significantly more well-equipped for a career in wildlife conservation then I ever would be through sitting in a classroom for hours on end. And that doesn’t just apply to my area of study; I think that’s universal. Also, I feel as though we should seek out and really appreciate the knowledge of people who have dedicated their lives to a particular subject or trade or career or hobby. Now I see even clearer that they are an invaluable resource that all to often go overlooked.
Those are just a few of my thoughts on my most recent forming-of-opinion-about-random-topic. It helps me solidify my conclusions if I organize them into coherent sentences, so I might just do this more often! If anyone actually reads this, let me know if you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear from you!