Friday, 7 October 2016

Natalie Lamb and the Importance of Learning

“I’m too old to go back to uni”, my friend moaned to me last week. A 23 year old saying they are too old to learn really saddened me. I tried words of encouragement and explained different options but the potential £9500/year fees loomed ahead, making every one of my words be ignored.

I have seen grandmas in university classes doing their undergraduates, their postgraduates, their doctorates! I think learning is not about age, it is about priorities. Yes, you may think that your family is more important, your friends are more important but why not have both? You can all learn together. You can learn for enjoyment. Who does not like to go travelling? Why not learn a new language, learn to scuba dive, learn the cultures of other people.

I think learning is how to improve. The saying “try, try, try again” is about learning from your mistakes, not repeating them. If you have a bad experience in life, you learn from it and work as hard as you can to not be in the same position again.

In my life, my learning has consisted of a good mixture of academic learning and more experience-based learning. My undergraduate degree was BSc (hons) Biology at the University of South Wales.  My course was taught but we had a lot of practicals, from dissecting formaldehyde-stuffed pigeons on a dreary Welsh day to conservational scuba diving on the coral reefs of Borneo. I really enjoyed the opportunities that my course gave me to do more hands on learning.  

Since my BSc, all of my work has been hands on learning experiences. My MSc was by research and my PhD most definitely is. I realised the other day that I have not sat an exam in two whole years! But I have still learnt so much and it really has helped me understand and explore the world around me a lot more, not just in terms of the knowledge I have gained, but also the confidence that went with it.

So, you may feel that university is too expensive for you right now but, please, say that if that is what you mean. You are never too old to go out there, learn, get some experience and just improve yourself as a person.
How do you feel about learning? Is it important to you? Has it made an impact on your life? If there are any hard-working students out there who are interested in this topic, it is worth checking this website.

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