I believe in living a life full of curiosity and wonder. Travel, Curiosity and Wonder go hand in hand in that life. Wonder is what makes a mere trip across town feel like a travel adventure. Curiosity makes following a friend on FB as they make the arduous hike along the Pacific Crest Trail a shared experience. Wonder will nudge us to look up how and where the winning State Fair cheese was made. Curiosity and wonder will lead you into serendipitous experiences that create lifetime memories, the definition of travel. My earnest hope is that curiosity and wonder will keep us learning and that learning will keep us relevant as we age.
So Let’s Go Learn Things together.
Curiosity and the Aging Process
The conceptual foundation for Go Learn Things started with the discovery of a library book titled: ” A Curious Mind, the Secret to a Bigger Life” by Brian Grazer. I loved the title immediately. It resonated with a similar thesis in my own life. Over the last decade I had been wrestling with the iconic search for “The Meaning of Life”.
Specifically, I focused on the loss of relevance as we age. Many call it a loss of power or control, but I think there is more. My goal is to remain engaged, purposeful and openhearted. Will I go to my grave clutching the car keys like my father-in-law? Unlikely. I want to go to my grave learning something new. Therein lies the importance of curiosity. Once we lose the power to wonder, once we think our way is the only way, once new ideas are scary, we have lost our relevance, and possibly our well-being.
The Science of Lifelong Learning
I want to return to the concept that Curiosity and Learning can improve the aging process. Of course I don’t expect you to take my word on this theory. Let’s look into some scientific studies on Curiosity and Learning. A 2018 study in the Journal of Neuroscience reported:
“Preserved curiosity helps older adults maintain emotional wellbeing. Curiosity is also protective against cognitive and physical decline associated with age. The dopaminergic and noradrenergic mechanisms support these protective effects.”
Dr. Matthias Gruber, of UC Davis explains that curiosity puts the brain in a state allowing it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn.
There are skills you need to develop in order to be a lifelong learner. The Delors Report from UNESCO defined the four pillars of lifelong learning:
- Learning to Know
- Learning to Do
- Learning to Be
- Learning to Live Together
These skills are applicable to improving your overall curiosity in any setting, including travel.
How does Go Learn Things work?
Here at Go Learn Things we are always looking for an opportunity to “learn” through travel. If we refer back to the 4 Pillars of Learning, we are looking to Know, to Do, to Be and to Live Together. These categories define Go Learn Things fairly well. However, a couple of them are pretty esoteric so we have developed our own pillars:
- Learning about History and Culture
- Learning about Science and Nature
- Learning about Outdoor Adventures
- Learning about Beer (Ha! I bet you didn’t expect that one)
Learning about the history and cultures of others and ourselves is a great theme for traveling. These opportunities can be found in Museums, Living History Venues, Architecture and Art exhibits. History and culture teaches us skills of empathy and global citizenship.
It is a toss up whether this pillar or Outdoor Adventures should come first. The physical skills learned in Outdoor Adventures enable us to explore Science and Nature. Again these opportunities can be found in Museums, Zoos and Botanical gardens. Traveling offers a limitless source of natural and scientific phenomenon to discover.
However, Science and Nature can be encountered in much less formal settings. The stars in a dark sky, the birds at your backyard feeder, or the physics of an airplane wing are all sources of wonder.
The physical skills learned on Outdoor Adventures can set you up to discover the magic of science and nature. Or they can simply provide a sense of accomplishment and adrenaline. Either way, they keep us moving! When we travel we love to eat and drink new delicacies. The outdoor adventures offset the calories. The physical benefits of time spent outdoors in Nature cannot be overstated.
If you have followed Go Learn Things at all you know that Beer has to play a part somehow. This is one of my recent passions and there is plenty to learn. You could apply the same concepts to any form of food and drink. There is history and culture, science and nature, and a vast diversity of styles to discover and learn.