Are you ever too old to learn?

learning

Some people say they’re too old to learn. And there’s even the support of the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. But, if you think about it, it’s still possible. People can still learn things and still improve on what they know.

So why is it people give up easily?

Biologically, it’s hard to learn new things

Along the lifespan of the human person, there will come a time that the brain undergoes something known as pruning. Pruning is when the brain starts to get rid of neurons and synapses connections that a person doesn’t use anymore. That’s why parents can get shocked at their adolescent not being able to perform a certain task that they were so easily able to do prior.

But what causes this pruning? In a sense, the brain starts finding a specialization for that person. When the brain starts removing small parts of your neural connections, it’s making more run for your specialization. For example, if a kid has been practicing math and has loved math games for a long time then, there’s a good chance that the brain will tweak itself in a way that will let the child absorb more complex mathematical concepts.

But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

A lot of people think that just because it’s hard, it’s because they can’t. But actually, it’s more like they can. It’s just that now they’re more cognitively advanced to analyse the situation and to notice other things. Before when they children, they didn’t have the distraction of other thoughts. The only thoughts they needed were towards a toy and what it did.

If that curiosity and persistence remained as we grew older, don’t you think we would have learned more?

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