The Growth of Roots

Learning a language in a classroom, you are given a synthetic environment and an artificial and pre-planed experience of discovery as you chronicle your way through the chapters of a textbook. The textbook is your world, a sort of separate microcosm enriched with whatever language you are trying to learn. Vocabulary sets and gramatical points are planned out to efficiently build on top of each other and present a lot of information so that you can grow fast, and grow fast you do. But this growth is only bulk muscle. The roots of this knowledge are confined together like a potted plant that you would buy from a nursery, and the they do not stretch deep into the wells of your mind. This knowledge comes fast, but it is prone to a very quick deterioration as soon as practice wanes. Like bulk muscle turning into fat with a year’s break from exercise. These artificial structures are like food enriched with chemicals, and it is obvious that the more natural variety is more healthy for you.

When you are learning in a real world environment, what you are building is linguistic lean muscle. Knowledge that comes from necessity that is incorporated deep within your core, not just in the topsoil. You don’t learn the words “gasoline station” or “bread” because they are on paper notecards, you learn them because you need to survive. This pressure is simulated with the handing out of grades in classes, a sort of artificial survival crisis where if you don’t study hard enough you wont make it. But all of this is just paper and concepts. People have forgotten that all of this is synthetic. A gym, not a battlefield. The University is a treadmill. Good to train on, but what a shame it would be to forget that we are only training.

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