Learning for pleasure, is it possible?

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One of the most interesting facets of the human mind is its unquenchable curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

Initially, children explore their new world through informal education and play, followed by more formal schooling, which can continue through college.

Education at these stages is there to equip young people with the skills and qualifications needed to get a good job. Specialising in subjects becomes important, and this narrower focus often excludes other areas of interest. Consequently, the concept of learning for pleasure is also lost, mainly because there is not enough time to pursue everything.

Continuing to learn

Although adults are in a continuous learning process throughout their lives – for example, as they read newspapers, watch TV and learn to cook – in most cases, this is not formalised education. Similarly, although on-the-job training may be organized both inside and outside the workplace, often it is seen purely as a means to an end.

Many adults who have reached the age of 50 and beyond pause to take stock of their life experiences and decide that they would like to learn something new, perhaps in a field different from anything they have studied before. However, they do not always wish to study for a certificate or a diploma, and luckily, not all courses or classes are designed to lead to formal qualifications; there are plenty of other routes for willing adult learners to take.

Informal and formal learning routes

Learning for pleasure can open up a whole new world of interests for adults, as well as new opportunities for socialising. Concentrating on a particular area of learning or improving skills to pursue a favorite hobby can be done in informal settings such as at a local library or community center, with many teachers and participants preferring the more relaxed atmosphere that these places provide.

Informal subjects may include languages and cooking or acquiring skills such as learning to play a musical instrument or understanding plumbing and electrical work – skills that are both practical and enjoyable to study. Subject choices are wide ranging; on the formal side, students can take courses in accounting, business studies, IT or law and obtain useful qualifications upon completion.

For those uncertain about joining a class or group, whether formal or informal, the internet provides a myriad of possibilities for interactive learning at online schools. All that is needed is an internet-enabled computer, preferably with broadband, and an enquiring mind. For some adults, learning something new opens up opportunities for a career change in later years, which can have a positive influence on their lives.

Benefits of learning for pleasure

One of the potential downsides of education for young people in school or college is the pressure to do well on coursework and exams, sometimes eliminating much of the joy in learning new things. Learning for pleasure, on the other hand, largely removes that element of pressure. Individuals can decide what they want to achieve and at what pace. Additionally, because they are able to choose a subject that genuinely interests them, as opposed to picking a subject to satisfy examiners or employers, individuals can get a great deal more out of their learning opportunities.

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