Last December, I wrote a blog post as part of my process of figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. It actually appeared on my old Blogger blog, but of course I imported all of those into this blog when I set up the website. I got so involved in all my exciting new stuff, I completely forgot about it.
Of course, one of the things I’ve been working on is my WordPress project. I’ve been sharing the blog posts on Facebook as I write them. In response to the latest, I was posed the following question.
Hi Hadass, I am curious as to why you are teaching yourself WordPress. I used to want to know all the ins and outs of WordPress, and spent quite some time learning my way around it myself. Now I just outsource any technical stuff, because an expert in the tool can do it way faster than I ever could!
This really brings me down to the core of the question of why we want to learn anything. Do we have an intrinsic interest in the subject, or do we just want to learn it as a means to something else? Alternatively, do we view the act of learning as a good in itself, regardless of the subject?
I don’t know, of course, but I imagine that the nice gentleman who posted the question was mostly interested in WordPress from a utilitarian point of view – because he wanted to improve his site, and at first he thought he could do it on his own. When he realised that becoming a WordPress Ninja is a massive job, he decided to outsource it. Fair enough, given that he was only interested in WordPress as a tool to be used in pursuit of his real goals.
I don’t flatter myself that I could ever become a WordPress Ninja like Chris Lema or Jesse Friedman. For one thing, that would require a specialisation that seems to run counter to my nature – I can learn many things quickly and well, but I’m as unlikely to invest 10,000 hours in WordPress as I did in physics (and no, it doesn’t take 10,000 hours to earn a Ph.D.), education or any of the other myriad things I can do. I would like to become competent at WordPress, and to understand some of the basics of web design, HTML, PHP and CSS so I can help people set up fairly simple websites. I have many friends who are kicking against the confines of Blogger or WordPress.com, but don’t have the confidence or knowledge to strike out on their own. I can see myself helping them with that, with the knowledge I am gaining now.
Finally, there’s just the simple fact that learning is fun and keeps the brain young and active. I am easily bored, and it makes me happy to tackle something I don’t understand and figure it out. If I can work my way through Jesse’s book and come out the other end with a working understanding of web design and WordPress, I’ll have a deep sense of accomplishment. That’s got to be worth something in my book.
How about you, why do you choose to learn things?