Why learn — When you don’t apply?

I have learnt how to read, so did i learn how to write.

I learned multiple languages, English Telugu Hindi French etc… I don’t really use all of them either.

I have learned grammar — I don’t really use the grammar everyday. I don’t use them to make any money so far! Most of these skills did not really fetch me huge amounts of profits nor will they ever fetch me! But the amount of resources I have spent to acquire these skill sets are considerable. Very Tiring hours put behind mastering each of these subjects.

I was disappointed having to waste so much time in trivial activities that have consumed my time. Often not understanding why I have put in so much time into these ARTS? When Sciences were really the paying interests. I do know that programming pays, I do know that Math, Physics and Chemistry are going to get me paid then Why waste all the time over these trivial subjects that don’t fetch any monetary profits at all?

I don’t really know — Why do we spend so much time acquiring skill sets that will barely be useful?

The Knowledge Barrier of today’s world is set too high. There are new fields of knowledge created and developed on the go — thus it is a tragedy that you have the burden of

(1) predicting the future,

(2) making the right choice and

(3) investing your resources on that right choice to learn it thoroughly and become a master in that trade.

As you can see — it is a choice that you can’t take back, or you can’t make multiple choices simultaneously. You make a choice and you need to stick with it. Making a choice bars you from all other choices. This choice paradox is more critical since the number of choices have exploded, which subsequently means that making a wrong choice would burden you with the regret of opportunity cost. Earlier it was only the road not taken now it is the hundred roads not taken. It is ironic that you now have a huge probability of making the wrong choice than you did a mere decade ago! After making the choice and going through with it for a decade or so and realizing that it was the wrong choice leaves you with little or no other choice. You can’t switch careers like you switch between your night pants and you shorts. It requires enormous amount of self-will, followed by regret and followed by commitment of resources to shift gears, start from scratch and build a new career! Which also means that you have the patience to play the game all over again, often the very brave, the very stubborn and the very foolish have such levels of commitment to rebuild again.

Thus the question is — Why learn when you are not going to apply?

There is an extremely good argument to counter this question.

Why should I learn how to cheat when I am not going to cheat anyone?

Why should I learn how to defraud/hack/con when I am not interested in conning/cheating/robbing anyone?

Why should I learn the art of war If i am not going to kill anyone?

Now the answer is fairly certain is it not?

You need to learn how to con because you can spot another conman, You have to learn the art of war so that you can recognize a savage warrior and estimate him to save your skin. You need to learn hacking to outsmart the other hacker. Thus you need to learn these languages, these skills, these arts so that you can save yourselves from these artists! Sounds counterintuitive, like pseudo logic?

It sure does sound that way but it certainly is the truth. Why should you acquire nuclear weapons when you are not willing to use them at all? North Korea Released an official press statement for the same. “America could bomb Syrians at will because they don’t have what we do” Having nuclear weapons is a sign of sovereignty.

Well the metaphorical nuclear weapon in this context are skill sets. They are more dangerous than a nuclear weapon. But let us delve further, You don’t really know which of these skill sets would be nuclear, while others remain ballistic missiles. It is only in hindsight and retrospect that you might realize the value of a particular skill set! As such every skill set would have had a maximum leverage period in history or a wave in the future. It is your burden to predict the next wave and acquire relevant skill sets to catch up to the next wave. If you try and retain the skill sets of the waves that have passed eons ago. You remain a relic in this modern world. Keeping up with the trend by learning new things is necessary, keeping current and updating your abilities is necessary to move ahead in time. In this process many of the skill sets you have acquired often remain useless or unused or rarely used.

Not everything useful can be used, and not everything that is used is useful either.

Some skills when not acquired cause you damage though they might not fetch you any profits. Let us call them Negative Skill Sets or Non-Negative Skill Sets. Skill sets that are useful to defend yourself, Survival Skill sets. In a world filled with water — The ability to swim is not a skill set it is a normal thing. In a world filled with bipeds, i.e people who walk, the ability to walk is not an ability or a skill set it is a pre-requisite. In a world of literates, reading and writing are not skill sets, they are mere gate passes. You don’t have a place in this world if you can’t read or write irrespective of you having to do anything creative with it! For you to hold the role of an active member of this community — as a consumer and not a creator. To qualify as a consumer you need to acquire a few skill sets and as the civilization progresses the skill set requirements for entry increase — right now it takes an average individual 12+4 years of continuous education to meet his requirement as a contributing individual to this society one must possess a basic degree. By contribution i don’t mean creative or profiteering — to qualify as a loss making or a zero-net worth individual one must spend 16 years of education — i.e. make a loss of 16 x 1000… bucks before he can qualify to enter the club of self-sufficient individuals.

Enter this man, He believes that CODING is one such obsolete skill set — so obsolete that everybody would be expected to be a coder in the near future. More or less how we expect everybody to be able to write, read, type in English across the World. Thus writing code will not be a skill anymore it would rather be a negative skill set going ahead. Where you will be charged for not coding. Another such important skill set that you need to be aware of is Finance, i.e. money. Every move that you make in this modern world is charged, the water you drink, the air you breathe? the drink you sip, the transit to your office, the pen, the paper everything is priced, everything has a price and you need to pay for it and if you have no clue about how money works — you would be at a disadvantage i.e you are a financial illiterate and it would take a huge toll on you in the long run. Thus not having the ability to understand how money works is going to bankrupt you! Many starts and many people who have stumbled across wealth often end up losing almost all of it and often end up penniless in debt — homeless. Many Actors, writers had to endure this fate because they did not acquire the skill set of money management. The lifesavings are usually eaten away by these conmen — They are famously called BANKS and BANKERS — They come in all forms and faces.We have the investment bankers, the orthodox bankers, the Islamic Bankers, The State Banks, The Central Banks, all of them with a unique goal of taking money off your pockets in every way then can!

I was talking about those conmen earlier — and you had to learn the art of con to merely protect yourself from these conmen. Similarly to save yourself from economic conmen i.e. the banks — who are more eager to lend you credit at every chance they get to enslave you for your entire life. Thus, most of these skill sets don’t seem to fetch you any profits or be useful in your entire life but nothing could be farther from the truth. Learning is never wasted! Like strong undercurrents whatever skills you learn are constantly at work saving you from losses. Our human mind does not have the intuitive ability to judge negative number -5000 makes little sense; While 5000 bucks of profit can be perceived and appreciated by our brain. A wise manager who makes the company shock proof and risk proof preventing millions of rupees of losses to many processes by making them error proof is barely recognized for we don’t have the ability to see the fixes that saved the day. We can’t see the crack that never happened! We don’t usually find out the names of the people who have fixed that which has not been broken! Thus a manager who let the process rip out and then fixes it lauded! Unfortunately the world does not work in mysterious ways. The world works in extremely predictable evil ways!

How about that?

Thus the answer to this question was provided not by me or by the TED speaker but by a Greek Teacher who was teaching geometry to his student. One student questions about the use of this utterly useless axioms and theorems that the lecturer was teaching them.

When asked by King Ptolemy himself, who was observing a geometry class that Euclid was teaching, whether there was a shorter way to master the subject, Euclid replied with his famous quotation, “There is no royal road to geometry.” Another time when a student asked, “What will I get by learning these difficult things?” Euclid ordered that he be given a Greek coin, “for he must make a profit from what he learns.” In such ways, Euclid made the points that in mathematics, shortcuts (even for kings) cannot replace study and practice, and students should appreciate the subject for its own sake.

Little did he know that the Geometry could be used as a whole new modern world of architecture.

A skill set acquired but never exploited is not a problem. It should never stop you from acquiring new skill sets because the old ones did not bring you riches or that you could not create something out of those skill sets. You can also teach those skills to the next generation who might do wonders with them. Never regret Knowledge!