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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Learn It and You'll Use It

My mother always told me that I would use everything I learn.

She probably said this when I was complaining about some subject that I wasn't entirely enjoying. I'm just sayin'.

But despite my protests, this has proven to be true. While interning with Toshiba, I was put in charge of rebuilding a training course in Spanish. Why? Because I had studied Spanish and so I "spoke" the language better than anyone else in the office... including my two ethnically Latino coworkers who only spoke English. I found it annoyingly ironic then.

I find it fascinating now.

Psychology tells us that we must "use it or lose it." And there is evidence that supports this on a biological level. But there is another law that seems to be at work--a law my mother knew way back in my early years of homeschooling: Learn it and you'll use it.

To this day, if forced to speak Spanish, I can't do much more than ask directions to a bathroom. Worse still, I have about a fifty-fifty shot at understanding the response. But even with my rather pathetic foreign language skills, I was able to complete a translation project in a language I hadn't touched in over four years.

In another example: I took a single drafting course in High School. I still use that knowledge to sketch diagrams now and again.

Beast's Castle: Jr. Year of High School

And today I added another aspect to my job description: Web content management for They're starting me off small with fixing typos and moving articles around. But eventually I'll start writing and posting content on Sonlight's site (and then fixing my typos after that <smile>).

When did I learn HTML and the other skills I need for this? On my own. In college. For fun.

And so once again, I learned something that had nothing to do with my major, my goals, or my interests but is now a nascent ability that has brought me to where I am today.

The same is true of you and your children. May this encourage you when you are wrestling with a subject that just isn't "clicking." May this inspire you as you consider your opportunities to study various subjects. And may this free you to enjoy the wonder and awe of life.

...because no matter what you learn, you'll end up using it somewhere.

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

Nascent: emerging; just coming into existence
Brought to you by Mrs. Sprinkles


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Tammy ~ Country Girl at Home ~ said...

That's so true. I think our son, Colt, is finding that out in the workplace and in college. Your post has motivated me to start working with our 9 year old on Spanish. It will become more and more helpful to be able to speak that language!


Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

You are so right!
Thanks for the reminder.
I only wished I'd "used" all the math I learned 40 years ago! OH. wait. I've never needed to use a quadratic equation in my life. Ever!
...nonetheless, I'll still be teaching my children algebra. Promise.

Luke Holzmann said...

Lisa, so true!

Tammy, I wish I grew up with more foreign language. It's been really hard for me studying Russian.

Esthermay, you may need that quadratic equation at some point, just not yet. Keep up the algebra lessons <smile>.


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Luke Holzmann said...


It's super cool, to me, every time something happens and I realize, "Whoa, that's why I learned that back then!" Good stuff.


Unknown said...

How true, how true.

The concept equals "learn it and you'll never forget it." - aka: "It's like falling off of a bicycle!"

Even though one might think they have forgotten (such as in your Spanish case) I've found over and over that those retaining walls within ones' grey matter will give up a smidgen of the ghost of a lesson learned from the past.

Take that first step with that faded memory, and voila! The rest begins to magically unfold before your eyes! :D

Which leads us all to case in point #2:

Mother is ALWAYS right!


Luke Holzmann said...

<smile> True, Angi. True.

And, yes, it is easier to pick up on things with a little refresher. I may get to the point of knowing three phrases if I were to spend another semester on Spanish <laughing>.



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