Experience is such a good teacher as long as one pays attention to what is going on. My thoughts on educational philosophy have evolved over the years, from growing up in an objectivist system to living in a constructivist reality. There is so much to be learned from personal experience and the experiences of others that the desire to learn can seem overwhelming. Let’s face it. None of us will ever become omniscient. Some of us might think that we know more than others but that is a dangerous assumption when experience is blended into fact-based knowledge. Discovering that there is more to the facts than just the facts has become a perspective for living and learning.
At a life or death juncture in the movie Patriot Games, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is asked, “Name one thing in this world that you are absolutely certain of ?” Without hesitation, Ryan responds “My daughter’s love.” For some unknown reason, that exchange seems deeply philosophical. The question implies an expectation of a fact-based answer. The answer returned is based upon experiential assumptions. I am not doubting the love of Ryan’s daughter, but simply find it fascinating that Ryan chose an emotional response rather than some measurably profound, scientific fact like “the waters of the world’s oceans are saline.”
Wandering back to the topic of this post… I have yet to find an aspect of skill or knowledge that is absolutely finite. I have played the trumpet well, but there are people with more experience and dedication who play it better, make better music, and do things with the instrument that most trumpet players never imagine. Reflecting artists will tell you that there are always unexplored nuances and techniques that frequently stretch knowledge base of the art world. I look at a freshly gesso’d canvas and call it white. The Inuit may look at the same canvas and describe multiple colors of white (albeit not the debunked 52 colors for snow). The simple fact is that our knowledge of “white” is not fixed but evolving based upon culture, nuance, and experience.
From my experience and perspective, those who choose to grow and learn somehow cast fear and complacency aside and embrace the challenges that others fear or view as comfortably insurmountable. A sence of exploration, adventure and playfulness trumps fear because it broadens experience. Some experiences are good. Some are bad. Some are rewarding. Some are painful. Pay attention, there is absolutely something to be learned either way.