Osmosis of learning

How do we learn things, absorb them as truth into our inner beings, and consider as truth things we have absorbed by osmosis. (For you scientists out there, I am not using this term in the strict scientific sense, but as a usually effortless, often unconscious assimilation.)

Watching a parade with my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson made me wonder what associations he was filing under the heading parades.

  • His anticipation as he walked to the parade route under his own power, pushing the snacks and chairs in his stroller.
  • Seeing how far he could run out into the street before I called him back once we were in our spots waiting for it to begin.
  • Sound changes as bands march toward you, pass you, and recede.
  • If you pump your arm at the fire truck, the driver will blow the horn. It’s really loud.
  • Stand up as the flags go by.
  • If I wave and stand by the side of the road, parade participants will throw me candy.
  • My grandma is a softie. She lets met eat snacks during the whole parade.
  • Scream your sisters’ names as they go by in marching bands, in costume, or on floats until the wave back at you.
  • Grandma makes you wear a cap and sunscreen.

This is the first parade he could remember. He didn’t learn by being a part of it, but by watching others march and ride by. His turn will come to take part, and his bullet list of knowledge and emotions under the parade heading will grow and morph with each experience.

I’d say overall, Garion gave it a thumbs up, in spite of some negative associations:

  • I had to wear that stupid baseball cap all the time.
  • I couldn’t run around through the crowds and explore. I had to stay where my grandma could see me, when I remembered, anyway.
  • I skinned my knee.
  • My sister got a lollipop and I didn’t.

Twenty years from now, there will be so many memories and experiences linked to the parade that he will be able to close his eyes and see, feel, taste, and hear the noises. All of his associated experiences, remembered or not, will affect his opinion and definition of a parade.

What affects my opinions, preferences, or definitions? For the most part, it’s something I don’t have to worry about—it just is. But if I want to change my thinking, I’m going to need to delve into the history of my learning by osmosis. I may have to do some unlearning before I can affect change.

2 thoughts on “Osmosis of learning

  1. The same was true for the Israelites. They had learned much of the Egyptian culture and theology during their captivity. It was easy for God to lead them out of Egypt, but more difficult for God to remove Egypt from his people. Renewing the mind sometimes involves unlearning things that have been deeply seeded into our minds. Thank you Lord for the ability to call upon your name and cast down every thought that tries to exalt itself above your name.


    1. Exactly the point I was driving at. And God gives us the strength and ability to do so. Our job is to invite him in–all the way–to pull out our old harmful roots to make more room for him.


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