We measure learning like we measure distance – in terms of an absolute quantity.
Our degrees are milestones in how far we have explored a field – a bachelor, a master, a PhD and so on. Further, we divide these degrees up into semesters just like evenly spaced checkpoints in a marathon.
But what motivates us to learn is analogous to velocity – the distance we cover in a given amount of time. When I make progress today, I am motivated to do it tomorrow. An excessive focus on distance, has distorted our learning by having us focus on the milestones – the tests and the exams rather than progress on a daily basis.
Learning about new fields, acquiring new degrees, learning from new mediums and performing new jobs are becoming survival skills. The distances we have already travelled aren’t as important as the velocity with which we learn.