I have found that in my life I am taught a whole more stuff than I learn. I don’t just mean classrooms, textbooks and lectures. What I’m referring to here is being taught life lessons (fire burns, don’t pet a cat that doesn’t want to be petted, if the sign says ‘wet paint’ you don’t need to confirm it).

Unfortunately, I tend to think that just because I’ve been taught something, it means that I’ve learned it. Usually I learn things through the medium of screw-ups. There’s a saying ‘If you learn through mistakes, then I’m getting a great education’. However I don’t think I can say I’ve learned from a mistake until I can see it coming and prevent it from happening again. For example, I continue to be surprised that a kettle that’s been sitting over a small fire for the past few minutes is actually very hot.

This is a problem that I believe affects a lot of people. We get taught a lesson and we think we’ve learned it. We go out with unfounded confidence, believing we won’t make the mistakes we just been warned against. And yet we do. However, this is where I think things start to look up. It’s difficult to truly understand that fire is hot until you’ve been burned, possibly several times. But being burned is a great way of learning a lesson.

There is a lot of information available to us these days. So many lessons that can be taught to us. Without going out and experiencing life itself (interesting article on this) you’re only getting half an education. Sure, you’ve read that the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a great place to pick up some souvenirs while in Bangkok, but until you’ve been there and gotten lost in the sprawling maze of stalls, corridors and tents, you can’t know if it really is that great a place to shop for gifts or not.

So to get a great education, you still need to listen to lessons that are being taught to you. They will better prepare you for whatever may lie ahead. However if you never come across a situation whereby you get to see if you can overcome the problem on your own, you can’t know that you’ve learned the lesson, or just been taught it.