It's a sunny day, the longest day of the year. The sun rose this morning at 05:04 and will set this evening at 22:05. I usually wake early (helped by the birds outside my bedroom window) and stay up late at this time of year.
Radio announcers are reminding us this morning that this is the first day of summer and it's time to take holidays, go to 'the cottage' or perhaps to a cottage, enjoy the many arts festivals, and simply enjoy ourselves. Less work or no work. Sitting in the sunshine. Barbecues and beer. These visions of summer relate to those of us who have sufficient free time and available funds to devote to leisure. For some people in our society leisure is another word for unemployment or underemployment. Most of us, however, do have opportunities to move at a slower pace for at least part of the summer.
Summer and leisure time, whenever we find it, offer us the opportunity of learning what we have been wanting to learn during the rest of the year. If we do leave work behind for a week or three we can relax and learn about Russian history, visual literacy, or how to use the Rolleiflex camera that Aunt Bernice gave us when she moved to Victoria.
Summer learning may include reading the books that you have seen reviewed enthusiastically in your local paper or in the Sunday New York Times Book Review (on paper or on one of your screens). Fiction, biography, current events, books on innovation and creativity, local histories, and many more categories beckon.
Some of what we want to learn pertains to the work we do, but we do not always have or find the time to take a course or read a new book on management or some other subject that relates to our work. Again, summer may provide opportunities to learn about subjects that are important to us, whether we are students taking summer courses or adult learners developing new ideas for apps or computer games.
If reading is your objective help authors, publishers, and bookstores by buying the books you want to read rather than being number 283 on the library borrowing list for the latest best-seller. For the price of a case of beer or a third of a tank of fuel for your vehicle you could buy a book that you could pass on to your grandchildren. Or you could buy your books electronically and keep them on your iPad.
There is so much to learn and, since it's summer and you're not in school or at work for at least part of it you can choose any subject. For example, if you've always been fascinated by Italian movies services like Netflix or iTunes probably offer films by Fellini and Bertolucci that you can watch at home or at your cabin in the woods. You'll have time to find reviews online – and you can discuss the movies with your family and friends who are relaxing and getting just a bit tired of catching and cleaning fish.
If you haven't been a listener or viewer of podcasts you'll be delighted to find them on virtually every subject – and they're free. Go to iTunes, click on podcasts, then search for subjects and key words. You can also subscribe to podcasts so that new programs in a series to which you subscribe will be downloaded automatically to your computer. Learn about anything and everything by listening to podcasts on your computer, smartphone, iPod or iPad while you sit on your deck or a local beach.
iTunes University offers free lectures and other programs from hundreds of universities and other institutions. If you haven't been to Stanford you can still listen to many of their lectures. Other universities allow us to sit in on entire courses and, in some cases, to get credit for them.
We learn what we need to know, but we also learn what we want to know. We're curious, and we often find that our best ideas come when we're walking in the woods rather than sitting at a desk.
I wish you a fine summer of relaxation and learning with your family and friends and hope that you will be energized by the great outdoors and by the knowledge that is available to us anywhere, anytime, at little or no cost.