Geezers vs Youngsters, The Pros and Cons of being a late learner

NeverTooOldToCode takes a look at learning later in life. Is a Geezer always inferior to a Youngster? Not necessarily!

Youngsters make learning look easy. Languages, music, computers, it seems to come to them naturally. Without a care in the world they master the most challenging skills effortlessly, leaving us geezers panting and biting their dust.

Or do they?

As everyone else I’ve learned lots of stuff as a matter of course when I was young. But I’ve also picked up some skills later in life (in-line skating, viola playing, IP networking and more). So let’s take a look at the differences between learning for youngsters and geezers

They make it look so easy…

While being young certainly has advantages (and not just for learning), there is more to it than you might think at first glance. Sure, youngsters have some things going for them:

  1. Youngsters have more More Energy. That’s just a sad fact of life.
  2. Youngsters have More Flexibility, not just limberness of joints, but also in brain development. Not all these oh-so-important neural pathways have been laid yet, which makes acquiring new knowledge that much easier.
  3. Youngsters often have a certain Natural Self-evidence. They just do it, without reflecting too much on what it is they’re actually doing.

What do you, Geezer, have in store to compensate for this?

Quite a lot it turns out!

  1. Geezers are more conscious of what theyŕe doing. This is the Big Daddy of them all. Knowing and experiencing what is happening, and adjusting your course accordingly is a huge, huge boon that comes with age.
  2. Geezers have more discipline. Hardened by life’s tribulations they don’t give up so easily when the going gets tough (and the going will get tough when you are trying to learn something new)
  3. Geezers have more economy. They know better how to spend their time wisely, how to set priorities, and when to take a break to let things sink in.
  4. Geezers have more acquired knowledge upon which they can build. When you have learned things before, you can transfer that experience to your latest learning project.
  5. Geezers can reflect on what works best for them. Learning by imitation, by doing, by reading, by watching. Long stretches at a time or 25-minute pomodoros, Geezers have tried them out, and know what works best for them (or if they don’t know yet, they can quickly find out by purposeful try-out)
  6. Geezers have more motivation. Okay, maybe not always, but a Geezer can set a realistic goal and stick to it.
  7. Finally, Geezers get more rewards, both during learning and afterwards. Getting your – sometimes rusty – brain in gear again, and observing your progress is sweet in itself, but nothing is sweeter than reaching your goal step by step, while being fully conscious of the planning, discipline and work that has gone into it.
Not all is lost…

So, when you are a Geezer, don’t despair! Determine what you want. Make a Plan. Devise a learning/practicing schedule. Stick to it. Set realistic short- and medium term goals. Adjust where necessary. Be optimistic yet realistic.

And you may find yourself in a different place sooner than you think.

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