Saturday, July 15, 2006

To Old To Cut The Mustard

**For those not familiar with this expression here is someones attempt to explain its likely origin -

I recently came across a discussion which was based on the premise that “people over thirty are just too old to learn new things”. In specific the discussion focused on, as you would expect, animation and drawing. My initial impression was “well that’s just ignorant”.

Then I cooled down a little and thought about it. Now I have to admit that learning new things was easier when I was younger, so was staying up all night and partying. But seriously, when you are young, you should have fewer distractions and more mindshare to devote to learning. So it seems logical that with less interference you have a greater capacity to learn. Of course there is the counter argument, that the older you are the more you have experienced and therefore you actually can learn things faster because you have more points of reference on which to relate things. Ultimately it boils down to a combination of things and none of them are specifically age dependent.

First, learning is easier without a lot of distractions. Second, learning is more about the desire to learn, the motivation, than it is about youthful energy. And thirdly, if two people are equally motivated and have the same lack of distractions then the more experienced person should have a decided learning edge. The counter argument to that is that sometimes experience brings along extra baggage in the form of prejudices that can block the openness to new ideas. But then inexperience often leaves young people open to naively accepting some pretty hair brained concepts without question.

The long and the short of it is that learning is a personal pursuit and like most things personal, it totally depends on the individual and therefore making generalizations like “people over thirty are just too old to learn new things” is, as my first impression validated, “just ignorant”.

"Gosh, it's my lucky day, a bright new coin just for the taking !!"


Blogger Elwood H. Smith said...


While our brain may suck up information faster when we are young and limber, I completely agree with you that youth doesn't have a corner on learning. The idea that “people over thirty are just too old to learn new things”, if someone really thinks that, IS ignorant. As you know, I'm one of the older guys entering the world of animation, having been an illustrator for 4 decades and I'm constantly learning. Motion 2, Toon Boom Studio, Flash, Garage Band, iMovie and now I'm just beginning to dig into Final Cut Pro. I hear some illustrators complaining that the computer "has no soul" and I find that ignorant. My G-5 and my Pelikan 120 pen are tools--no more, no less. Depending on one's attitude and skills and imagination a person can make crap with 'em or they can make art.

A young person, one of those under 30's cats, can learn to use those tools (probably more quickly than a senior citizen) and produce dreadful end results. A 70-year old can learn those tools and produce crap, too. But both the kid and the geezer can produce art once they've learned how the tools work and it doesn't matter if it takes a short time or a long time to do it.

I'm now 65 and I do wish I had more time left than I probably do--I've certainly used up one hell of a lot more than half of my allotment--but I intend to keep learning and creating until either my body or my brain (or both at the same time) fizzles out. It makes life worth living to be engaged in making stuff and learning tools to make the stuff.

An editorial note:
You said "...some pretty hair brained concepts..." and it's Hare-Brained, as in Bugs Bunny. You knew that! You're from Tuberville, Georgia, the Hare Capitol of the South.Or is it the Hair Capitol?

Your Elder Pal,

4:09 PM  
Blogger JK said...

No grass grows on a busy street nor does much hair grow on top of my head.

Thanks for the follow up, there is so much truth in your comments. -JK

6:36 PM  

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