Don't Try To Learn Like Them Just Because It's Popular

Don’t Try To Learn Like Them Just Because It’s Popular

I don’t have YouTube downloaded on my phone. 

Any app I use regularly (with the exception of social media in an effort to deter use) is downloaded. Any app I even use semi-regularly is downloaded. So what is the logical conclusion here? That I don’t watch YouTube videos regularly. 

And that conclusion is correct, much to the confusion of many of my friends. 

If you remove the percentage of my friends who use YouTube simply for entertainment, I am still left with a high number using it as a means of education. Learning new recipes, makeup tutorials, music lessons, academic lectures – you name it, they’re pulling it up. 

We could look at podcasts in the same way. My friends (along with the rest of the planet) are avid podcast listeners. It’s very normal to hear a thought from them begin with, “I was listening to a podcast and…” 

For a long time, I felt oddly guilty about the low number of YouTube videos I watched and podcasts I listened through. On the surface, that would seem like a weird thing to feel guilt over. But when a learning method is popular, when a lot of the people you’re surrounded by are into it, it’s easy to fall into the trap of, “I must do this thing or be looked down upon.” 

Or maybe it’s not that extreme. Maybe it’s more like the interactions I’ve had where you’re asked all sorts of questions on your thoughts about a YouTuber or podcaster…but you’ve never heard of any of them. 

It’s taken me a while to be okay with the fact that while I watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts from time to time, that’s not how I learn. I had to figure out what works for me. 

And I have! I don’t naturally turn to podcasts or YouTube videos to teach me something. Instead, I pull up instructions and do it. I talk about the things I’m trying to think about, learn about, or develop my opinion on with other people. And my favorite: I write about it, and use the research process behind the piece I’m writing to fill in the gaps. 

If you don’t learn best through audio or visual, don’t hop on the video or podcast trends just because they’re popular. Put that time into learning the way that works FOR you. You may not have answers to all the questions lobbed at you during parties, but you’ll certainly be in a better place educationally for it. 

signing of the declaration with text

What Can Hamilton Teach Us About Learning?

For the past few weeks, one word has taken over the internet and the dinner table conversation across the country: HAMILTON. 

An on-demand world means that Broadway has now entered our living rooms, and the release of the live recorded production of Hamilton on Disney+ is the most recent development. However, this one show isn’t set apart simply because of its innovative music or diverse cast, but because it is based on historical events. While not perfectly factual, it documents the beginning of American independence by focusing on one Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. 

(Full disclosure, I have the soundtrack playing in the background as I write this. The music is VERY good.) 

Now, there are certainly people who watched Hamilton and took it at surface level. They watched it, were entertained, and then turned it off and walked away without another thought. And that’s okay. 

But the musical sparked curiosity in the minds of others. What were the actual political stances taken by Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton? Why was Angelica so excited about Common Sense by Thomas Paine? After rapping about it so much, what role did the Marquis de Lafayette actually play in the French Revolution? 

In this capacity, Hamilton serves as a case study on learning. It doesn’t matter what form knowledge comes in – what matters is what is gained from it. If having rap music on repeat can drill important pieces of American history into our heads, all the better. But maybe we all can learn much through not only music, but movies, poems, art, podcasts, or anything other than lengthy books. 

To be sure, we should always fact check what we are learning, no matter the source. Alternative forms of learning can often take artistic liberties that make the facts less precise. But once we make sure our facts are in order, these resources are wonderful tools in growing our understanding of the world. 

We live in a culture where constant learning is undervalued. If things like Hamilton can help change that, we should be all for it.