Why is learning easier(or seems easier) when we’re young and futile, but as we get older learning gets harder, but understanding more abstract and complex subjects also gets easier?


Like for example the older you get the wiser and more abstract minded you become, but the learning process on the other hand seems to wear down real badly with age, if you want to learn a language learn while you’re still young because language comprehension can only be so decent, right?

Is such mindfuckery, compare to the vocabulary and linguistics of a 25 year old compared to that of say a 10 year old and see the world of difference, of course some learn fasters than others and who knows sometimes kids can be smarter than adults, but is the brain just more or less plasticy when we’re younger? But then why does brain processing speed peak around ages 16-19 according to so many infographics that I’ve seen.

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I guess it depends on what you’re trying to learn

A motor skill is definitely way easier for an adult to learn than a kid

But communication skills are way easier for a kid than an adult, that’s why it is way easier for kids to have their social cues engrained faster than say some undersocialized adults who dealt with heavy social isolation before.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

It’s hard to show that learning does get harder because of age. Children learn a language fast because they regularly do not get their needs and wants met until they can communicate them. Putting an adult in that situation is fraught with legal and ethical issues.

The marginal cost of learning generally rises as you get the older and learn more things. I don’t think it’s harder, independent of subject matter. It’s a matter of motivation.

Two big things in play on opposite sides here:
Neuroplasticity is how quickly and easily your brain cells can create new connections. On a biological level, it’s how you learn. It’s very high in kids (in part because their brain is still growing) and goes down as we age. So kid brains are physically better at learning things.

Countering this is the fact that most knowledge builds directly or indirectly in other knowledge. Clearly knowing how to add makes learning multiplication easier. Less obviously throwing a ball makes parts of physics easier to learn since you’ve seen gravity and forward velocity turn into a curve. As we build up knowledge, the odds that we have some part of the knowledge required for what we are learning next goes up. Older brains have a bigger repository of stuff to draw on and apply to new situations.

There’s a lot at play here. One additional factor to consider is metacognitive strategies, meaning how you choose to think about and organize your own learning.

A more experienced learner is naturally better at learning things for this reason—they have better intuition about what to focus on, how to spend time, what to take a second look at, etc.

Another aspect is the affective dimension (how you feel about learning). Young kids have the advantage of not worrying too much about looking stupid as they sort through making sense of complicated things, which can inhibit our learning later on. But conversely, kids can get frustrated and quit much more easily than (some) adults who have stronger emotional self-regulation. All of these affect your ability to learn.