Why Learn?

Learning with Milk

Learning with Milk by LadyDragonflyCC <3 Orchid Weekend!, on Flickr

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?

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7 Responses to “Why Learn?”

  1. Jo-Anne Sullivan Says:

    Everything we learn is like another piece of the puzzle. And when you truly begin to understand something, it’s very empowering! After all, no one can do something for you as well as you would want it done or did it yourself.
    That’s why I learned HTML coding. When I was doing my artwork full time and professionally, I did all my own PR, photography, promotional adverts, business cards, and, of course, websites. I LOVED how I could type an entire page of gibberish into notepad, ftp it up to a server with photos, and magically, a graphically enhanced page would appear! Photos, galleries, order forms, cgi-bin programs for postcards of my artwork, forums and guestbooks were all there with my own personally designed logos and style displayed throughout. I spent hours and hours developing, designing and building it all. Not to mention the hours of learning the coding. It gave me a better sense of controlling my own message rather than paying someone else to please me with their concept. But I DID spend as much time producing the “wrapper” (brand?) as I did the content and that felt a bit unbalanced.

    Now, I focus more on learning things that empower me in daily life, health, and enjoyment. Different types of pursuits, for sure, but I find myself learning more immediately and personally fulfilling things. 🙂

  2. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Wow. You never cease to amaze me, Jo! Is there anything you can’t do??!

  3. Jo-Anne Sullivan Says:

    I never learned to drive well enough to feel comfortable doing it full time and, therefore, never got my driver’s license! How weird is that?! 😉

  4. one person's view Says:

    Speaking as someone who has been in university every decade of her life (except the first), obviously I value knowledge for knowledge’s sake. If I have to learn something for school, I I drink it all in, care a ton, and then five years later can’t remember why I cared. But I’m a fountain of useless trivia.

    My sister-in-law learned how to do her own oil changes to save money– that motivated I could never be.

  5. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Yes, L, I’m with ya. Let me see, every decade? OK, I was in the army so not the second, either. But definitely third, fourth and fifth! Now that I’m in my sixth decade (eep) I’m just taking continuing ed courses online … does that count?

  6. Betsy Says:

    For me, learning is a compulsion – for better and for worse! (I can get distracted from my goals by shiny-bright new things to learn…)

  7. Hadass Eviatar Says:


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