It's a question worth asking and two thoughts came to my mind while reading your essay. First, learning is like a workout for the brain. Just as you may do sprints or arm curls to strengthen your body, learning new material strengthens your brain "muscles." In turn, these can then be used in other efforts. I've never had to lay on my back and push anything up except as exercise (bench press). However, I've used those same strengthened muscles for many, many other things.

While your formal education hasn't taught you the specific techniques to deal with the challenges you list, it has given you tools to think through those problems, analyze them, and then bring the skills and knowledge you do have to bear on them.

Second, the challenge with self-directed learning is that you don't know what you don't know. I have no problem allowing or encouraging children to pursue their curiosity but sometimes they need to push past / through the initial "boring" phase to get to the good stuff. Again, relating the idea to physical activity, I wrecked on my bicycle while initially learning. I decided I wanted no part of riding. My father encouraged me, both gently and with a little bit of shaming, to continue. I did and eventually loved it.

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Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.