Several weeks ago YALSA Blogger Melissa Rabey wrote a post about To Kill a Mockingbird. When I read Melissa’s entry I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from that book. The quote comes near the end of the story after all of the major events take place. Scout is ruminating and ponders: “…as I made my way home, I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn’t much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra.”

I have always loved that idea that at some point in life learning ends. The idea that there is a time when everything that needs to be learned is learned. And that what you learn in school, like Algebra, can be the pinnacle of all learning. Of course, as adults we know that learning happens all the time. And, I think, one of the best things about learning as an adult is sometimes the learning comes in unexpected and surprising ways and places. For example:

  • A conversation with a group of teens about a homework assignment might lead to learning about a new search tool or website that the teens have discovered in advance of the librarian.
  • A commercial while watching a guilty – or not so guilty pleasure – on TV might lead to learning about a new tech device that teens might be interested in using.
  • The behaviors of a group of contestants on a reality show might lead to learning about and understanding how people interact with each other and this learning and understanding might be useful when interacting with colleagues, peers, or teens.
  • Dead time before a meeting might lead to a discussion with a colleague about a topic of mutual interest and information about a resource or activity that might have been previously unknown.

For me, it’s the times that I learn something new when I didn’t expect it that are the most interesting and exciting and, I have to say, often are the times when I find myself more imaginative and innovative in terms of being able to take what I learn and use it in a different or unexpected way. Perhaps it’s because the learning was unexpected that I’m more open to the opportunities of what can be done with that learning. Perhaps it’s simply the excitement of the surprise.

I’m curious, when were you surprised by learning something new in an unexpected venue or conversation?

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

One Thought on “30 Days of Back to School: What’s Left to Learn?

  1. mk Eagle on September 23, 2010 at 6:15 am said:

    Yesterday one of my students asked if I’d read a particular short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because he couldn’t find anyone else who had read it and he really wanted to talk about it with someone. So I read it during my lunch break, and it turned out he’d been interested in the story because a YouTube commenter mentioned it on a video for Losing My Religion. I left the conversation with a whole new interpretation of a song, and a renewed interest in an author I haven’t read since my high school Spanish Lit class!

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