Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hogwash about slower learning as we age

I just saw this tweet from Paris Hilton.

It reminded me of when I was a little girl (5-7 years old), and adults would say: "I wish I could learn X (piano / foreign language / math) but I am too old now and cannot learn as fast as I used to."

I became very afraid of this aging process that would rob me of my memory and capacity to learn.

Well, now I am close to the age of those adults when they said this, and it was not true at all!  It was all nonsense.  If anything, I am better now at learning, because I know how to mix breadth and depth, and when to read a book vs practice the activity hands-on vs watch a lecture on the subject.

My memory is only worse in that I sometimes have interference.  I used to scan a file of code and rely that I could remember all the variable names and constants.  Now I get confused between the code I just scanned vs code I scanned in the past, so it is a bit harder if I just do it offhandedly.  But if I concentrate, my memory is just as good as before.

I also remember being on a recruiting trip for Google in China, and a young female student asking me with sincerity, "We all know women's memories become a lot worse at age 30, so should I still go into programming, knowing that I'll be unable to keep up with new technologies in a decade?"  I was outraged at the time, but I was not yet 30, so I could not completely debunk it.  Now I am over 30 and can definitively say that was hogwash!

Women have also told me that their memories got worse after having a child.  I have not had one yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to update and reject that one too.

All that fear-mongering for nothing!  Why do we do this to ourselves?

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