Is It Really Too Late to Learn New Skills?

The New Yorker 

Among the things I have not missed since entering middle age is the sensation of being an absolute beginner. It has been decades since I've sat in a classroom in a gathering cloud of incomprehension (Algebra 2, tenth grade) or sincerely tried, lesson after lesson, to acquire a skill that was clearly not destined to play a large role in my life (modern dance, twelfth grade). Learning to ride a bicycle in my early thirties was an exception--a little mortifying when my husband had to run alongside the bike, as you would with a child--but ultimately rewarding. Less so was the time when a group of Japanese schoolchildren tried to teach me origami at a public event where I was the guest of honor--I'll never forget their sombre puzzlement as my clumsy fingers mutilated yet another paper crane. Like Tom Vanderbilt, a journalist and the author of "Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning" (Knopf), I learn new facts all the time but new skills seldom.

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