I just saw the move The Music Never Stopped, and it makes some very interesting observations about learning. It is about a man who suffers brain damage and is not able to make new memories. However, a music therapist is able to reach him by playing the music he listened to as a teenager in the 1960s.
By listening to the music, he is transformed from an almost comatose state back into the man his parents knew – a sensitive and thoughtful music lover. As long as the music is playing, he can carry on conversations as if he had never been injured. The only caveat to this is that he doesn’t realize how much time has passed.
While I’m sure some element of the movie has been fictionalized, there is quite a bit of truth to this story. It brings into question the nature of learning. At some level it seems like we learn in bits and pieces, picking up information and storing them as needed. This man’s story shows that learning can occur around something that we really love. In fact, our whole identity can be built around it.