Learning, the act of gaining knowledge, is a craft unto itself. It starts with questions - the what ifs, how abouts, whys, . . . leading from the unknown to the known, through inquiry, experimentation, travel, and of course pure accident.

This is about how it happens in my life.

When reading something makes you think, what do you do?

Look out: another outbreak of sticky note syndrome.  

I admit to happily scribbling in books I own (The Information by Gleick is well marked!) but will never do so in a Library book - it just isn't right.

As much as I would love to own most of the books that make me think, I am quite sure that the cost of the books will far out weigh that of the sticky notes (especially since the latter is a frequent give away compared to the former!)

Mind you, I also have assorted notebooks full of titles and authors and page references. And for the past few years I have occasionally transmitted such bookish thoughts into 0s and 1s (such as here).

In the process of cataloguing the books I own via LibraryThing I found myself immersed in memories associated with every item.  While I cannot claim to have read every book in its entirety, I am deeply familiar with the vast majority.  They all proclaim their salience as vessels of learning, and reminders of what is known.

When we find ourselves in a formal learning environment the natural output of the interaction between substance and sponge is in the form of research papers, writing up experimental results and other assignments.   Most people don't live their lives in such environments, but that doesn't mean the learning process stops, right?   The idea of life long learning has a long tradition, whether it is on the basics (think Frontier College) or beyond. 

I've come to think of learning as an expression of what it means to be alive. There are so many things to learn, so many ways to learn them.  And the power of sharing what is learned has never been greater.

September is Life Long Literacy Month, and today is International Literacy Day.  Check out ABC Life Literacy Canada for more information on these initiatives.

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