Imagine the last long drive you went for. There was no aim, just driving and pitstops when you feel like it. A stop for food because you felt like eating at a roadside stall or wanted to admire the sunset. Remember, there is no aim here- it is driving for pure joy.
Likewise, picture yourself as a learner just driving, if you may, into the world of knowledge. There is no aim, again, just a pleasure being pursued. Perhaps you were staring at the glass in your hand and wished to know how the shape came to be. So, you read something online, a possible history of glass design. Thereafter, you overheard a conversation surrounding Existentialism and sat by yourself reflecting upon what it means to exist!
John Green, in a popular TED talk, compared learning to personal cartography- making one’s own map. It is the documentation of one’s explorations- a mental map of ideas explored. It is an adventure one can always set out for- takes the tiniest of triggers. In the instance above, it was the glass and the conversation triggering one’s learning process- the curiosity, if you may. Sometimes, one is even on the edge with only a way back; the pursuit of an inquiry is often a cul-de-sac, an unsolved mystery. One can approach it in multiple ways and yet, converge at the wall. Perhaps, the origin of human life meets this fate. A breakthrough that wall is a discovery.
However, we have been trained to learn with a goal in mind. From a young age, grading systems are introduced and emphasized upon. The threat of passing or failing pushes one to learn quickly and ‘correctly’ regardless of one’s interest. Every subject is picked for the level of intelligence it signals to society. Every internship or job applied to for the value it creates on one’s resume. In all this, learning is undertaken for a purpose- its adventurous-self is reduced to purpose. It hands you a map, detailing the route and the destination- digressions are forbidden.
It is not a horribly made map, just dusted probably- it has been used so much, it is historic. Dust it off, and one may find new routes to the same destination. The teachers may take a seat among the students, and they may dive into knowledge together. Or there are more projects than classes which lead to the same goal of the curriculum but through unique approaches. The core is, to value a subject for the adventure it brings with itself, not for the grades or marks at the end. Studying need not be deprived of adventures.
Think about the technology nerds who work as doctors, the friends obsessed with trivia- there is no productive element to that knowledge. They learnt it because they enjoyed it. That is learning for the sake of learning. It is an adventure created by you and yet automatic.