Life-long Learning, Part I

NA-300x223A curious sensation came over me when researching and writing about the Wobble Board of Learning:

I got a dopamine rush. I experienced the very phenomenon I was attempting to explain. It was like being dizzy while describing the sensation of being dizzy. Read about the science of positive training.

It took a while to figure it out, but here’s what I know:

Animals, including us humans, can get jazzed by seeking answers and solving problems. But it takes time and nurturing.

Great parents, teachers and horse owners don’t teach facts as much as they offer lessons in curiosity, observation and resourcefulness. When their children, students and horses receive positive feedback, cycles of learning to learn and loving to learn evolve.

magicDo you remember the kids’ TV show The Magic School Bus? Ms. Frizzle’s best line was “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.”

Those kids got themselves in pickles and snafus alright. Yet to Ms. Frizzle, it was all a necessary and fruitful caper. All good since the kids were being curious (not scared) and sorting things out themselves. I’m learning how effective this attitude can be in horsemanship: When working on the Feeling Funny Pressure exercise with Jolene, I watched as the mule resisted her urge to spook and hunted for the release. I let her get messy and figure it out. The result? A shake of her head and lots of lip-licking! Read about it here.

Personally, my habits of research and reward (finding answers and writing about them) have been positively reinforced by editors’ approval, reader feedback, and the simple satisfactions of discovery and articulation.

Dopamine in microscopic action

Dopamine in microscopic action

40 years ago, I suppose I got a dopamine rush when someone said, “Great answer! Good job!”

Now, the rush comes from the seeking. Even if the praise never comes, the process is still a blast.

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