Thursday, 24 May 2007


Back in the early 1970’s, when I was at Teacher Training College in Northumberland, I had a poster on my wall that was very popular at the time.

The more I learn the more I know
The more I know the more I forget
The more I forget the less I know
So why learn??

It seemed then, and to an extent still seems now, to capture something of the dilemma of learning. Why do we continually push ourselves to learn more, be it about a specific subject in a formal setting, or just in the realms of life experience, such as travelling and seeing new sights? Clearly something in our nature is inquisitive. Something in our make-up wants to know the answer to, as Douglas Adams put it, “Life, the universe, and everything.”

Of course, if you’re a reader of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” you’ll know that the answer is 42. I always found it rather interesting that in the 1980 Alternative Service Book, paragraph 42 was The Lord’s Prayer. The answer to everything? The New Testament would have us believe so.

Yet away from the more esoteric questioning, some of us are periodically driven to study for learning’s sake. Two years ago I did a home-study course on Interior Design, and gained the equivalent of another “A Level”. Now I’ve embarked on a 12-week OU course on “Writing Family History”. The time required is more intense than that asked for by the Design course, but it’s just as rewarding. Currently I’m working through how to interpret the bare bones of Census Records and Birth, Marriage and Death certificates. To a certain extent I know what the certificates contain since I complete Marriage documentation several times each year, and I’ve seen enough of the other two types to know what to look for. When it comes to the Census records though I’ve learnt about the different methods that were used to record the information since the first one was taken at the start of the 19th century, and what you can deduce from entries and omissions. It’s really quite interesting, and a bit challenging. And although this isn’t going to get me a qualification at the end, apart from 10 points towards a Degree, the reason I signed up for it, and paid the fee, was that I felt I needed a bit of a challenge that was outside of my sphere of work. I suppose it’s the equivalent of getting in the car and going out for a long drive to pastures new. And with three holiday days this week, I’ve been able to get down to it in a systematic fashion.

Whether I still feel like this when my first Assignment is due in a couple of weeks, we’ll see.

Must go - the sausage casserole is ready.

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