The myth of learning

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

‘I know of nothing more inspiring than that of making discoveries for ones self’. – George Washington Carver

This myth is simple to state and prove. The myth says that only when we learn, do we learn. What it means is that unless there is a conscious and methodical method to learning, learning cannot happen. It is only when we are taught (in a systematic, structured way) that we will learn.

But this is not true. Let’s take the mother of all examples to prove:
We all learned our mother tongue without any structured and specific effort to learn it. We learnt it by being exposed to it all the time, by hearing others speak in that language. Our brain was collating data, analyzing, concluding and assimilating it.

Similarly, if I work in a garden (or in an agriculture field) I will automatically learn about crops and irrigation.

In fact, the evolution of our education system is only recent – about 150-200 years old. We learned very differently for thousands of years. Perhaps we learned for different reasons. We did not learn to get marks or pass exams. We learned for our life, our livelihood and for the joy of learning. Interestingly, for both, one would typically be an apprentice. So we learned on the job, by doing, by observing.

The authors run Geniekids, a learning centre in Bengaluru that works with children. To know more about their work visit

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