Child psychologists tell us that most of a child's development happens before the age of 6, when her cognitive brain is not yet fully formed. Strangely enough, this is also the time when she effortlessly absorbs everything she encounters.
As we get a little older and our cognitive brain begins to form, we start to make judgments and form opinions about things. As we mature in our cognitive abilities, we form a worldview. We filter information to let in what agrees with that worldview and reject the rest. This filter helps us function in life by limiting the amount of information we have to deal with. But when it comes to learning, it gets in the way.
This is why, when we are intellectually engaged, we are not learning. In my experience both in learning and teaching, cognitive intelligence actually slows down learning. The faculty that helps us learn is our intuition, which is what children use to absorb large amounts of information. This is also the reason why computers cannot learn, despite the fact that their capacity for processing information is often many times that of a human brain.
We are accessing our intuition when we get an insight into a problem that we are trying to figure out. These flashes of insights are often known as aha! moments or Eureka! moments. When such a moment happens, we cut through the stuff that's made of old ideas, thoughts and beliefs and have a brief insight into the source of inspiration that we all have access to. After such a moment happens, something inside of us changes and our mind never goes back to its original state.
Such a change is exhilarating, uplifting and lasting and it's the true definition of learning.