Why does learning have to be so po-faced?

Category: Blogs

Published: May 22, 2015

This week it is Staff Blog week here at Webanywhere, so each day we have been sharing with you a new blog post from one of our employees. Today, it’s the last of the week and we have Cieran Douglass asking why does learning have to be so serious?

In order to write this blog post, I’ve been wracking my brains for examples of where I did some learning that was particularly notable, so I could provide an interesting hook rather than just a fairly mundane observation. I had a pretty standard education really – local village primary school, grammar school in a nearby town, then university, where I muddled through and managed to get a 2:1 in Politics. None of it stands out as particularly notable really.

Then I started thinking about the other places I’ve learned things, things outside of my education, and my mind wandered back to 2007. This was the year I got my first proper computer I didn’t have to share with my family, and I developed an interest in graphic design, first just through MS Paint, then GIMP, right up to Photoshop. It was the last of those that drew me, late that year, towards the “You Suck at Photoshop” series of video tutorials on YouTube. It’s not really safe for work, but I’d recommend anyone interested in digital imaging check it out, since as well as being informative it’s also hilarious.
Chronicling a man’s descent into madness and rejection while also providing some very handy Photoshop tips, the series has taught me things I’m still using to this day. Ever since, when I want to learn something, I’ve headed for online videos, and the engaging ones are the ones that are both informative and entertaining. If I’m learning for pleasure, I want the pleasure part to be an important factor! It keeps me focused and also helps me to remember things – a joke’s as good a mnemonic as anything else!
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea from this – I’m not saying that there’s no place for important documentary film-making or anything – I enjoy Attenborough as much as the next guy, and there’s some things it can be difficult to make light of – but when it comes to memorisation of facts, retaining engagement and producing effective results, I find I learn much better when I’m laughing.
It’s not just video content though – when browsing through Waterstones with a friend the other day we came across the textbooks section, and I was reminded of my science lessons at school. By far the most interesting and memorable textbooks I had were CGP’s – a company managing to fuse important topic with an air of whimsy I really appreciated. They certainly made revision that bit less stressful, for me at least!
Of course, everyone learns differently – I enjoy humour, you might not, I like computers, you might not etc, and just because I found a way to learn that helped me doesn’t mean it’ll work for you too – this is my experience, and I’m not here to be prescriptive!
Cieran Douglass