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[personal profile] ars_longa
I have a need to archive some of my postings I do for my classes somewhere. Word files proved to be not an ideal solution, so I think the easiest thing is just to post them here. I promise to hide the most specialized ones 'under the eye', but some of them can be left open, I think. Shouldn't be too bothersome.

I learned to read very early; according to my parents I was about 3 years old. Since then and to this very day reading is my favorite pastime, and I think it's not even fair to call it a pastime; it's more like a necessity, like breathing and eating. I read anytime, anywhere, anything. Even in my family, where a person without a master’s degree is considered a loser, I am something of a reading maniac. When I was a child and had nothing else to read, I used to read my parents' technical and scientific magazines (that was one of the few publishing industries that was thriving in late USSR). I used to skip lessons in school and go to the neighborhood library instead to read huge illustrated tomes on paleontology and archaeology. This is one of the interests I still retain, by the way, along with ancient history, and it is enormously helpful for putting things into perspective and not falling into the trap of thinking that everything that happens today happens for the first time and presents some new and exciting (and/or dangerous) development. Chillax, people. We've seen it all before.

On the other hand, I’ve always been curious. Satisfying curiosity is pleasurable and rewarding, physiologically speaking (Kang et al., 2009), and, I suspect, it can be just as addictive as other methods of obtaining pleasure. I guess I am a lifelong curiosity addict, but well, there are worse addictions. My curiosity has always been, however, not so much of ‘how does this book end’ type, but rather of ‘how does it work’ and ‘how did that happen’ type, which is, thankfully, more useful in science. I don’t like to watch movies, for example: some vestiges of the curiosity of the first type compel me to see how it’s going to end, but my brain always nags at me at the same time, reminding me that I’m not learning anything useful here, and who are all those people and what are they to me? I got tired of that inner conflict some years ago and now I only watch documentaries. They are more than engaging to me and create much less inner conflict. I do read fiction, but less and less so as the time passes. The same article I mentioned above found that engaging and satisfying curiosity enhances the memory recall of what has been learned in the process (Kang et al., 2009); that explains a lot about my almost perfect memory and recall of most things I read about. I always believed that it’s not just some form of a talent, as my mother insists, but a consequence of my interest in things, and the less you are interested in the subject the less you are going to recall of it. That makes perfect sense to me.

My personal philosophy of learning is that, without such essential personal quality as curiosity, and without the ability to process and retain a lot of diverse information, human life is intellectually boring and professionally limited. A person who doesn't have substantial knowledge of other areas of interest beside their own misses vital connections and essential patterns of human existence. (A little disclaimer: I speak of human existence, but only because all our knowledge is, ultimately, human knowledge, even if it describes such not very anthropocentric things as diamond formation, dinosaur classification, or deep sea fauna, to name a few. Ultimately all we know is a product of human existence.) Frankly, I pity people who don't like to read. What to read is, actually, not that important: if you have enough curiosity you can find some interesting knowledge and a starting point for research even in a lady romance book. A lot of people read because they are forced to: they read textbooks because they want to get a degree and is forced to do so by their school curriculum, and sometimes they read other things because it's something that was recommended to them by friends or popular media and it’s a ‘thing to do’. However, reading is not a necessity for them, and they would rather watch an action movie or play a computer game. Granted, if you do have a curious spirit, you can learn something even from that, but to deepen the knowledge, sooner or later you have to start reading, and reading a lot. That's the point at which most people who are unused to reading and don't like to read set it aside as something that requires too much effort. And that is the point that ultimately limits their personal and professional development.

On another hand, this addiction to reading and learning has been getting me in trouble all my life because I just can't force myself to spend time on some specialized knowledge when there are so many other exciting things to read about and learn. I think I'm only able to be successful in my nursing degrees because nursing is such a synthetic, open field, it connects so many areas of knowledge, science and art, that I'm not feeling limited and chaffed; there is always something close to some area of my interests for me to work on, and always something new to learn. I won't do well as a narrowly specialized anything. Even mental health - it can seem as if I'm limiting myself to a specialty, but in fact mental health field is practically limitless, interconnected with many other areas, and woefully underdeveloped, so there is so much to learn and to do, I don't know where to start. I have to learn how to limit my curiosity a bit because every time I do research for a paper or a post I end up with 50 different articles open in my browser, reading them and searching for more, until there is practically no time left and I have to speed-write the required assignment, trying to figure out how to fit everything I want to express in the limited number of pages. Thankfully, reading a lot tends to translate into some writing proficiency, otherwise I would have never managed to finish anything. Also, I can’t imagine being able to devote myself to some singular topic or purpose, which is often a quality that is essential for success. So yes, some moderation is definitely required. I hope I’ll be able to figure out that formula for success before I’m too old.

Kang, M., Hsu, M., Krajbich, I., Loewenstein, G., McClure, S., Wang, J., & Camerer, C. (2009). The wick in the candle of learning: epistemic curiosity activates reward circuitry and enhances memory. Psychological Science, 20(8), 963-973. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02402.x

(no subject)

Date: 2013-10-31 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So very different from me - and beautifully written; didn't have time to read in detail, will return to it later
Edited Date: 2013-10-31 12:40 pm (UTC)


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