“It's great to go on your own and discover new things just for yourself, to meet new people and all that. If you're all on your own, then there is nobody there to guide you and you have to make all the decisions for yourself. It's quite liberating in a way.” – Dido (singer, songwriter)
The process of discovery helps us learn. It has since we were infants. Turns out – babies are GREAT at discovery – better than adults even. Of course, baby’s brains are little sponges, soaking up information faster than at any other stage of life, much more efficient than our big clunky adult brains. It seems as adults, we may be focused more on the mastery of activities versus discovery of information.
Why is that? And are we missing out?
Or are our brains a little lazy? Turns out we like low-hanging fruit. But studies have shown that it’s increasingly important to keep your brain active and “stretch” its muscles in order to stay mentally healthy throughout your life. By using the parts of your brain you use less frequently actually helps grow new neurons. Discovering something new literally helps your brain.
How you learn something new also matters.
Since March Madness is almost complete, let’s take the example of basketball. A great coach can teach you the mechanics of how to shoot a basketball. They can talk about the angle of your arm, where your guide hand should go, how to square your shoulders to the rim, etc. You can know all of the mechanics of what makes a great shot, but until you actually get a basketball in your hands and discover for yourself how it feels in your hands, how heavy it is, what the proportions are, you will never really know what it’s like. Once you get the feel for the basketball, how far away the basket is, only through that personal discovery can you really understand what it is like to shoot a basketball. From there – that is when “routinized learning” comes into play – and thus practice makes perfect (for the most part).
Many times discovering things on our own has the added benefit, as Dido said, of liberating us. Don’t we all want to be a little more liberated? So go on. Discover something great!
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