Why Kids Learn So Much Better Than Adults

I’ve been using a lot of Skillshare and YouTube lately in an attempt to learn Adobe After Effects. I’ll complete some tutorials and start to feel pretty good about my skills, and then I’ll try to stretch myself and end up finding a video that just makes me think, “Holy cow I’m never going to get anywhere near that skill level…”

YouTube is awesome and terrible at the same time because of this very thing. You can learn almost anything you want, but you’re also super aware of how talented other people are.

Fun fact: learning things is hard. This is nothing new, but the older we get, and the more comfortable we get with what we know, we start to forget how hard it is to learn a new skill. When you hop on your bike, you barely remember how long it took you to learn how to ride.

Side note: this is why experts are sometimes the worst teachers.

Side note about memory: our brains wash away all memories but the peak memories and final memories.

So when you try to, say, learn how to play the guitar, all you can see is the massive skill gap between you and Paco de Lucia. You try to string together a few simple chords for a Peter, Paul, and Mary song, and you’re painfully aware of how bad you are.

But kids? They’re blissfully ignorant of how bad they are. Other times they’re somewhat aware, but they just don’t care. They’re not afraid to try stuff. But the older they get, the more self-aware they become, and the more afraid they are to try something they’re not good at.

We adults are terrible learners. We’re often pretty entrenched in our careers and we don’t dare take on something too far out of our comfort zone. The one thing you can do as an adult to help you learn as quickly as a kid: just ignore how bad you are. Or, alternatively, admit how bad you are but be so excited about learning something new that you don’t care how bad you are. It turns out, learning, itself, is a skill. The more you learn, the better you are at learning, so the easier it becomes to learn other new things.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep creating objectively crappy (but subjectively awesome) animations in After Effects, consciously rejecting the notion that I’m no good.

Originally published at RCLX.

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