What does it mean to learn?

To say that learning is simply assimilating a body of information in order to understand a phenomenon of the natural universe, in order to contribute functionally within society, is doing a grave injustice to a process that is so dynamic it seems to have a life of its own.

Let’s try to bring understanding to what happens in the learning experience. How do we actually come to understand what we’re taught?

I tutor primarily Talmud, which is law and lore from the Jewish cannon, but I just understated it. Here’s a piece from Tractate Nidda:

“The foetus is taught the entire Torah in the womb – when it emerges into the world, it is traumatised into forgetting it entirely. (Described as an angel striking him on the lips.)”

There you have it and there it is, as Plato described it. All knowledge, all truth is within his soul, the design of a real teacher is to remind him, to tease prior knowledge to the surface.

Now, when we talk about knowledge, what are we talking about? What does that mean? What does that look like?

Here I balk. Here is where the learning experience gets intense. It’s observable that, let’s say, one lesson about one story can have myriad interpretations. Not just about, let’s see, what was the motive of the protagonist? But a perception difference so deep it seems that something else happened to someone else somewhere else.

This goes to say that everyone interprets a different reality. Because everyone really exists in a different reality and as such, should have the benefit and the privilege of being introduced and guided through that reality by someone with the acumen and the compassion to understand his unique soul. This is what I perceive is a professional tutor’s interest.

My personality, as opposed to another, has been honed to accept a reality that is archetypical of experience, spirit, and actual longing and I see what I want to see and there is nothing casual about that once it becomes the primary purpose of my existence.

Thus, we deal with learning as a paradoxical dynamic. I am alive for a purpose. Learning is the experience that lends explanation to that purpose, that unveils the essence of my being and the cosmic nature of reality. Without knowledge of this I am bereft.

Yet this knowledge sinks into the fabric of my being. I am enriched beyond all measure. I have had a quantum of pure luxury that was the result of absolute necessity.

To teach and impart knowledge from that perspective is one of the reasons why I tutor. As a tutor, I can operate at my own pace and with my own perspective.

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