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Knack for Life

I now have a strange little exercise I do whenever I find myself in a new situation.

Published in the January 2023 Issue Published online: Jan 13, 2023 Articles, Education And Arts
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By Gregg  Losinski

I now have a strange little exercise I do whenever I find myself in a new situation. I look around the room and try to speculate where I fall on the age spectrum of the people milling about. Even though I don’t feel old on the inside, my visual survey often puts me at the upper end of the chronological age spectrum.

This is not always an easy exercise.

Some people age well, and others look older due to tough mileage. Not that calendar age equates with wisdom, but I believe that life experiences can teach you a lot if you are willing to let them.

Back in the 1970s, a new educational philosophy emerged called Experiential Learning. It wasn’t the most complex theory; in fact, it pretty much stated what many people have learned over the millennia. Learning continues our whole lives! Formal schooling is an important foundation, but how individuals use knowledge varies wildly based on the person.

Sometimes people cannot truly grasp the concepts they have been taught until they experience them as part of a hands-on experience.

When it comes to opportunities for formal learning, Idaho Falls has a lot to offer for a relatively small city. We may not be able to support anything approaching the Ivy League, but what we have at the College of Eastern Idaho and University Place is enough to offer a glimpse of the possibilities offered by ascending the Ivory Towers of academia. If you factor in the educational opportunities just a short drive either north or south, then there is no excuse for at least not exploring the possible benefits extended educational opportunities could provide.

The real place where Idaho Falls shines is the outside opportunities available.

Helping students take their learning to the next level benefits us all! Not only are there a wide variety of internships available with my current employer, the Idaho National Laboratory, but there are many trades positions out there with entry-level openings waiting to be filled. Whether you want to work with your hands or your mind, options are there for the taking, but sometimes it is difficult for young people to be aware they exist or how to find them.

While structured learning situations are great, there is so much to learn informally out there as well. If we risk opening our eyes, it is amazing how much we can learn from those around us. Our families, friends, neighbors, and elders have so much to teach, if only they are asked.

How do math or chemistry fit into farming, baking, or even brewing? Numbers and symbols from the classroom can come alive when someone takes the time to show how they all fit into something you both care about.

Ideally, a student should explore formal internships and exchange programs when they can. Of course, spending a few years on a mission in Bolivia is a great opportunity to learn about another part of the world, but for a kid from Idaho Falls, even going to Los Angeles, Chicago or Atlanta can be just as eye-opening and worthwhile of an experience to realize how different things are within our own country.

In order to maximize the aging process, it is important to never stop learning. Never say that you know all you will ever need to know. Somebody somewhere always knows something that you don’t. Older folks may not be able to navigate their smartphones, but they have a lifelong treasure trove of information from living in the real world.

From a DIY perspective YouTube has been an incredible boon. Need to fix a leaky toilet or cook acorn squash? YouTube is sure to have dozens of different videos on how to do it. The facts are there, but the aspect of interacting with a real human has been lost. Some things can’t be learned virtually. You have to physically experience them. Learning is a lifelong journey, so take the opportunity to learn from someone who has a knack for life. You may have something to teach them as well!

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