Why Does Adults Lose the Learning Capability and Enthusiasm?

People usually think that only senior citizens are struggling to learn how to use new gadgets and computer, however, more and more adults begin to complain that their brains seem too stuffed to fill in new knowledge and skills. 


It is true that youngsters invent more new technology and ideas. People feel that once reaching middle age, e.g. 40s, their innovation and creativity will plumped and even catching up the trend is a challenge. Therefore, on one side, we see parents urge their children to study harder and achieve good grade in school, but on the other side, they themselves rarely explore their learning capability beyond their daily work realm.


So what are the factors to affect the continuous study capabilities of adults?


One reason is just simple: lack of time. People often said that they have been fully bound by their daily working schedule, household stuff and children, so they do not have bandwidth to learn. However, rarely people will forget to spend spare time browsing social media content. 


The other reason might be that people relate studying as a short-term investment. They want to know the accurate return before they embark on studying. Often we hear people ask “Is it useful to learn this knowledge?” or “How much more could I earn if I get that certificate?” I will say that knowledge or skill might not reflect their value in a short horizon. The achievement feeling will enrich your spirit immediately, but you may wait for a longer time before it unfolded its economic return to you sometime in your life. 


Third, people may not master self-learning capability, which should have been formed in their formal education period. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The education system should teach not only the knowledge, but also the capability to learn.Often we will say that interest is the best teacher, but if you really want to explore some fields in depth, you need to build up a knowledge framework of the field, learning in the width first, and then depth in a few aspects. That is why I often suggest people who lost direction at their career to join in an MBA program because it offers a framework to learn all the business related science. Another example, a guy in TED introduced his way to self learn computer science based on MIT’s Computer Science undergraduate course list. He did it because he has set up a framework for that new knowledge realm, and of course, persistence is compulsory. 


Last but not the least, adults set invisible boundary for their own capabilities and social roles. After graduating from school, they embedded their mindset in their major in school and daily work and restrained themselves from expanding their knowledge. Gradually, they lose the potential to learn and even look not as smart and acute as they were young. The most important is to “open up your mind”. Do not think about your current job and defined role, but think about other possibilities. After all, multiple careers have become a new fashion in our era.


Finally, wish everyone could enjoy the learning.