Organised learning tends to be directed at the young, we generally think that they are who education is for.
Notwithstanding that we have ‘lifelong learning’, and that many of us actively pursue it into later life, the education system is designed for people starting out in life, and it is a supply system.
Learning, on the other hand, is about what we absorb and the the importance we attach to it in our lives. It can (and should), happen at any age, and it starts with an attitude of willingness and openness which becomes gradually more elusive as we progress through our lives.
In other words, the older we get the more set we become in our attitudes and the more closed our thinking becomes. Children learn without trying, the rest of us have to put some effort in. Study time is wasted when the people have with fixed opinions about things, and the best students are the ones who haven’t already been trained how to think in set ways.
Personal growth and our development as individuals and communities relies on our our capacity for understanding that, in order to learn and hopefully one day develop wisdom, we have to actively cultivate open-mindedness in ourselves. Being able to reflect on and modestly review that which we ‘know’ is a personal decision, but it doesn’t necessarily come naturally or easily.
Being open to learning means being prepared to make oneself vulnerable to the fear of uncertainty, to risk ‘not knowing’.