Acquiring a new skill is often daunting, and as an adult it can be downright embarrassing to struggle with an unfamiliar process. In Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning (7.5 hours), author Tom Vanderbilt invites us to work through our fears and embrace the joy of learning something new.
Vanderbilt, who reads his own book, acknowledges that adults are rarely comfortable learning new skills. He takes listeners on an exploratory tour through infant psychology, educational theory and cognitive science. As he chronicles his own experiences of studying how to sing, surf, draw, weld and juggle, he encourages listeners to embrace a “beginner’s mind” that facilitates lifelong learning. He’s also subtly radical in his unabashed rejection of futurism. There may be instructional videos galore on YouTube, he argues, but it’s still better to learn with a class and a teacher.
Whether inspiring parents to join their children in trying new activities, encouraging group learning experiences or explaining how a neurobiologist might benefit from studying the tango, Vanderbilt maintains an upbeat and optimistic tone, like an encouraging friend.