Jan 062016

This bit I’m embedding below is the first part in an interview that Isaac Asimov gave to Bill Moyers in 1988. He talks a bit about learning and education and how he’s taken those things on. In particular, he talks about how he has no training at all in astronomy and that all of his knowledge on the subject arose from his passion for learning and is all self taught. In contrast, he says, his formal training is in chemistry, but he thinks he knows too much about it and it doesn’t excite him anymore to learn about it. That’s an interesting concept to me. Is it possible to learn too much on a subject? Or, at least, learn so much on a subject that it loses it’s flair for the learner? I think he was on to something there. He goes on from there and talks about living life to it’s fullest, and enjoying life. This strikes me as a bit sad, considering that the interview was filmed just 4 years before his death. Here’s the video:

One other thing that strikes me is that it’s clear that Asimov truly gets enjoyment out of learning. I think that concept is lost on so many people. Not because they don’t like to learn, or enjoy to learn, but merely because they are trying to force themselves to learn something that they don’t have any interest or calling for. If people, instead, learned about things that they have an interest or calling for, I think there would be many more people who share Asimovs sentiment towards learning.

Jan 262011

Here’s the second piece of an incredible piece of an interview that Isaac Asimov gave to Bill Moyers. He goes much more into the future of learning and the future of education.  In the first few seconds of it, he very clearly describes the exact situation we have with the internet being as widely available as it is.  And then describes the resulting “one-to-one relationship for the many” where we all have individual access to the “gathered knowledge of the human species”.  What an incredible way of explaining it.  He even goes on to talk about the failing of the educational system.  I touched on a similar idea in a recent post, “Will you be Bigger When You are Older“, and the idea that the social norm is that once you’ve finished formal schooling, your education stops.  Asimov puts it pretty well in this interview when he says that “people think of education as something that they can finish.”  And then goes on about how it has become a right of passage to finish school and move on into adulthood, and how we end up with people “looking forward to no longer learning, and you make them ashamed, afterwords, of going back to learning.”  I think the best line is shortly thereafter.  “People don’t stop having sex just because they’ve turned 40.”  It’s an incredible way to compare it.  Many of us that are on this path to becoming 21st Century Humans have a real passion for learning new things and applying new knowledge.  Why, then, did many of us stop that learning and applying when we graduated?  For most, I would hypothesize, it was the rush into the “real world” to get a job and career and to make enough money to pay off those student loans and other debts that we racked up on our way. Watch the video:

One thing that keeps coming back to me with all this discussion of the educational system and the state of personal education, is that we’ve known it was broken, or, at least partially broken, for such a long time. This interview was recorded in 1988! It was plain enough then, as well. Can you imagine what would happen if more people became activists for a reformed educational system and for teaching our children to become life-long learners rather than the old 16 years and you’re out learners? What an incredible world that could be!