Stay in School: Lifelong Creative Learning
In our always-connected world, continuous learning is a given. Ongoing professional development is imperative in technology careers, yet learning something new in other fields is also good for your career, your health, and your life.
Innovation is often inspired by the arts—and vice versa. Did you make paper snowflakes as a child? Inspiration for research work on stretchable electronic devices led by Shenqiang Ren, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, comes from the cut-paper art called kirigami, a lesser-known cousin of origami.
And after all, Leonardo da Vinci’s insatiable curiosity about human anatomy and the nerves and muscles of a smile gave us the Mona Lisa. So whether it’s for professional or personal reasons, stay in school. Here are a few suggestions.
Innovation, inspiration, and art. Find new ways of thinking about what you’re seeing. MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, offers a learning portal that’s a great way to engage and explore modern and contemporary art—from Abstract Expressionism and Conceptual Art to Pop Art. Not sure what “abstract expressionism” is? No problem. There’s a glossary of art terms on the website. Google Arts & Culture is another interactive treasure trove of information on artists, mediums, art movements, historic events, and figures from around the world.
Read books, e-books, audio or paper books. Check out the book reviews on Gates Notes, where Bill Gates shares his recommendations on some great reading material. And if you’re a murder mystery fan, check out Last Ragged Breath, a novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter/editor Julia Keller that’s part of a great series set in the ugliness and beauty of Appalachia.
Learn to make music. Don’t let a lack of formal lessons hold you back. Chrome Music Lab integrates creating music with technology so anyone can create their own tunes with Song Maker. Add notes by clicking the grid, using your keyboard, or singing into your mic. The open-source code to some experiments is available on GitHub.
Here’s some advice worth repeating from guitarist and singer Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, who The New York Times wrote, “spent his career fighting purism by synthesizing old blues, country, jazz, Cajun and R&B styles.”:
“Stickin' with what you know is one thing. But don't stick with it the rest of your life. Go to something else. Then add that to your repertoire. That's how you develop style.”