Some years ago, the UK government launched a National Curriculum for schools.
I was doing some work in education at the time, so had copies of the manuals laying down the precise content that teachers were expected to deliver.
As the 11-year-old son of a friend looked through them with me, he said: ‘So when I’ve learned all this, I can leave, right?’
He was just about to start seven years at secondary school, so I had to chuckle at his suggestion that he might be allowed to leave and start work at thirteen, say, if he rushed through all the expected material (and clearly showed prodigious educational capability) in just a couple of years.
It isn’t like that, of course.
However much – or little – you learn, you have to serve your full stretch of five or seven years, because going to school is about far more than working your way though a set of prescribed requirements.
It’s about learning ‘softer’ skills such as getting on with others; finding out more about yourself; working under your own steam etc.
I hope it’s also about discovering some area of learning that really inspires you, whether or not it’s an academic subject.
In my experience, the most content people are those whose minds are still bright and enquiring, those who’ve never lost their desire to learn.
Of course there are people who in their latter years succumb to cruel conditions such as dementia, robbing them of varying degrees of their cognitive abilities, but there’s no doubt in my mind that a hunger to keep learning goes hand-in-hand with chirpy seniors.
This phenomenon isn’t just limited to older people.
We all tend to thrive when we add to our learning every day.
You’re very possibly not following a syllabus right now: all the more reason to seek out opportunities to increase your knowledge in the next 24 hours.