Tangential Learning — How To Have Fun & Learn Something While At It

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Have you ever find yourself looking up something on the internet, learning about it until some extent, and maybe eventually becoming an expert on that topic?

If yes, have you ever tried to look back and ponder what is the trigger that makes you start looking it up? And the answer is usually something that you enjoy doing? Like playing video games, watching films, reading a book, random conversation topics with friends or family, etc.

That, my friend, is an experience called Tangential Learning.

By definition, Tangential learning is the process by which people self-educate around a topic if it is exposed to them through something they already enjoy.

I am an avid gamer, and this concept is frequently something that I bring up whenever the conversation steered into a passionate discussion on why video games matter. Video games, among other media, use this wonderful concept so many times and I learned that there’s a word for it from a video by wonderful people of Extra Credits back in 2012.

I decide to write about it because I found that people just do not realise that they are doing it. By having this realisation, I hope more people can find any fun exposure that they enjoy, and at the same time learning something and be inspired by the end of the day.

So, now I have some tips to make use of it and tap into its potential.

The exposure must be GENUINELY FUN.

Usually, entertainment is the exposure of where this Tangential Learning start. That is why video games are the very well known channel for it. Let’s face the fact that nowadays entertainment is a necessity. It can be different from one person to another. So try finding a hobby, media, community, that makes you enjoy spending your time in it without any regrets.

But Tangential Learning does not necessarily come from something that is entertaining in nature. Just understand that motivation is a crucial key for education. Teachers can tap into this by understanding what kind of amusing exposure that can stimulate motivation from their students to learn.

Return to the REAL WORLD.

With entertainment becoming the usual channel of Tangential Learning, it can convolutes non-fictions with fictions. Be careful with this and ensure that your reality is still in the correct place.

Speaking about reality, for example: do you think it’s possible that we actually live in The Matrix?

Red pill, or blue pill?

Now, I’m not telling you to debate and find out whether it is true or not that we are actually in The Matrix. With Tangential Learning, you can find how The Matrix do its fascinating world building. The real world knowledge that you can get from this is how The Matrix story-telling makes you think that the theory about it is plausible.

RIGHT COMMUNITY that shares your passion.

Nothing can charge up your motivation to learn like a similar kindred soul that shares the same passion. Whether it is a serious community with similar professional background, to a dorky group of friends that you shared time with. The most important is that you know you love discussing the topic with them!

But be careful though, I will recommend to not bring the topic you love to a wrong crowd. This is a harsh reality: not all people share the same passion like yourselves, and that is OK. Just prepare for an uncomfortable moment if you bring out the topic out-of-nowhere into the wrong circle.

Enjoying the fun? SNAP OUT OF IT.

Something that is fun and enjoyable are usually very engaging and you may already be drowned with happy hormones when experiencing it. But for Tangential Learning to really work, you need to start the exploration while your curiosity is still driving! Research and do something about it, satiate your hunger of knowledge!

During pandemic, many people are getting depressed day by day, they find themselves searching for distractions to help them cope with the current challenge in life. I encourage you, to find a distraction that is really really fun for yourselves which hopefully can trigger and spark motivation to learn further about it, do personal projects, build something, and seek to be an expert on it.

With Tangential Learning, while staying sane, hopefully you can enrich yourself with new knowledge that can be useful for your life. Because I believe all knowledge is important and worth learning.

I'm just your usual unordinary guy