Mature Process

So often I’ve compared a given experience to learning to drive a standard. You know, with the clutch.

Today’s new drivers aren’t as likely to learn to drive this way, since most new cars today are automatic (and have been for a long time). But once upon a time, at least in my neighborhood, if you were a teenager and wanted a car, you took your official driving lessons in an automatic (the school provided  lessons once you passed Safety Ed.) and a family member took on the task of teaching you to drive a 5-speed.

You learned because a standard cost about 25 percent less than an automatic. That’s a lot of money with that price tag. Besides, there’s more power in shifting gears. More control. More attitude.

However, it’s a frustrating process. You know what you’re supposed to do, you swear you’re doing it and still it doesn’t work. That’s not the only swearing, typically. Your first teacher gives up after sharing a few choice words and passes the task on to the next unsuspecting volunteer.

frustrationThen one day, you get it. It works. You no longer are stopped at a green light, praying you won’t stall again. There’s the occasional slip-up, sure, but you now know how to drive a standard.

Other learning experiences mimic that process. For me, it was math.  Particularly algebra. I struggled and struggled until miraculously, the light broke through. Lucky for me, my high school math teacher watched my process and understood why I went from Ds to As, virtually overnight.

I wasn’t so lucky in college, but that’s another story for another day.

I’ve seen men and women take on knitting, something that is second nature to me, and talk themselves through every labored stitch. “I’ll never get it,” they might moan, but I assure them, it will happen. Just keep breaking in those new pathways in the brain.

Driving, calculating, knitting.  It takes time, but the battle is part of the joy. By the way, I impressed the heck out of a KFC worker a few years back when I pulled up in my 5-speed Corolla. “I’ve never seen a woman drive a standard,” he marveled. Ah, the passing of time. The needs, and therefore the skills, change.

woman-160342_640

So whatever you’re learning, stay with it until that breakthrough.  Actually, I’m not going to say never give up. There is always a time to move on. Just don’t give up before the process is complete, and your frustration has matured and born fruit.


Clutch

Image Credits: (Light Bulbs) © Dmitry Guzhanin – stock.adobe.com; (Frustrated Woman) © ivector — stock.adobe.com; (Woman in Car) courtesy of Pixabay.

 

Advertisements

Lessons Learned: A Belated Thank You

In sixth grade, in an effort to teach his students the importance of simplicity in writing, Mr. Dunton assigned each of us a famous saying, something we all were familiar with. We were told to re-write it, using unnecessarily complex language.

Here’s what I came up with:

AdobeStock_143047698“An overabundance of persons engaged in creating edible material taint the liquid in which meat, fish and vegetables are stewed.”

I’ll leave it to you to figure out the original popular saying. Mr. Dunton loved my interpretation, and my classmates were completely confused. I can’t speak for any of them, but that lesson stayed with me.

As did the assignment we were given in eighth grade. Write a 100-word description of anything you choose, just don’t use the same word twice.

Unfortunately some of us were very literal and thought that included such words as “the” and “is.” It became a challenging assignment. One that has proven to be useful to this day.

Frequently after I’ve written and published one of my blog posts I find an “appalling” error. I hasten to correct it, but what I really should be doing is thanking those teachers who taught me to spot the problems in my writing and helped me hone a skill that is essential to my well-being.

I have several friends who are teachers, and I know there are days they feel as if they’ve accomplished nothing. The demands put on their job that seemingly have nothing to do with teaching, but rather, with meeting the obscure expectations of bureaucrats, overshadow the part of the job they love.

AdobeStock_110260540
Thank you very much!

Most days will eventually fade in the memories of their students, most assignments will be a part of a hazy past. Still, some things will stick, and they will make the difference teachers want to believe they are making.

Thank you, Mr. Dunton. Thank you, Mrs. Edwards…Mr. Teall…Mr. Tabucchi…Miss Golart. For those of you I’m not naming, you are not forgotten. Neither are your lessons.

Thank you.


Images © geosap — Adobe Stock

Quote Challenge Day Two

girl-reading-small

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

About the Quote Challenge (you’re invited!):

Thank you, Dede, for inviting me to take part in this challenge. If your life has been turned upside down and you’re determined to make it good again, visit her site.

I struggle a bit with quote challenges, so this is a compromise. It’s a three-day challenge, and I should nominate three people each day to take part in the event. Choosing those select people overwhelms me. So if you want to accept this challenge, please do so!

Three quotes over three days. Thank the person who nominated you, and nominate three new people each day.


Image Credit:  © cirodelia – Fotolia

Wisdom is as Essential as Salt

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
— Aristotle

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Centuries apart, great minds came to the same conclusion. It takes more than a headful of knowledge to truly be of use in society. The one who can spout a bounty of facts may be of passing interest, but those who take those facts and put them into perspective will have a lasting impact.

Grammar police are often annoying, and with good reason. They rarely relay in any meaningful form the purpose of speaking with precise correctness. Written grammatical correctness has its place. It makes reading easier and more comprehensible. (Anyone paying attention will find errors with my writing, so no need to point that out. I know already.) And certainly speaking with clarity is a necessary skill for most of us.

turkey strut

But if I fail to properly use “whom” while I’m talking to you, or I tell you I’m “good” instead of “well” when you ask how I’m doing, you should know you come across as pompous and insecure about your own intellect when you correct me.

That kind of education, knowing proper grammar, is important. But knowing when it matters is just as important.

I have said it before and it bears repeating: the most valuable class I took in college was Logic 101.  I was fortunate. I had a fantastic professor. Today’s world of pundits and sometime fools spouting off facts on 24-hour television requires our discretion and wisdom. It doesn’t hurt to have those skills in everyday conversation, either.

If you cook, you know salt is essential for the tastiness of so many foods. Those on a salt-restricted diet will tell you that’s absolutely true. Yes, there are healthy alternatives. Wisdom is as essential as salt, and the alternative is discernment.

Knowledge concept with books and seedlings

I have good friends who are in education. Bonnie is one of the leaders of a state college in California, and her passion for students and learning is inspirational. As is the same spirit in so many teachers and administrators. I applaud all of you.

My cousin is working toward his masters’ in education, and plans to teach high school when he’s done. All that learning for a job that pays so little while demanding so much. Kudos to all of you committed enough to the process to pursue that highest education for the sake of others.

I hardly have to tell you educators, because you know by experience, the importance of wisdom as well as knowledge. I remember the wise words of my freshman English teacher, who’d throw those thoughts out almost as an aside, better than I remember the vocabulary tests we took each week. It’s forty years later, and they have helped shape my life.


Photo Credits: (rooster) © Tsomka — Bigstock; (book with plant) © Elnur — Bigstock


Learning

Something Incredible, Someone Incredible

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
― Carl Sagan

That sense of awe, of anticipation. What lies around the corner? What will change my life tomorrow?

Carl Sagan, of course, was talking about science, and presumably, discovery. Yet there are things each of us have yet to uncover in our own lives that can turn the tide for us, bring us great joy and satisfaction, and give us hope in the thought of a new day. Discovery in the ordinary.

globe-304806_1280 pixabay smImagine being eight months old again, and the whole world is new. In some ways, that still can be true. There is still more out there we don’t know than we do, more to learn than we can ever know. And while most of it doesn’t have the power to change our lives, just learning it does. The power of the process of education.

And having that sense of awe certainly changes you.

It’s easy, and safe, to become cynical as we grow older. It almost seems wise. We look at the little ones around us and call those wide eyes “the child-like look of wonder” equating “child-like” with “naive, vulnerable.” Yet imagine being able to just sit somewhere and watch the magic of something incredible reveal itself.

Perhaps in sitting still you’ll learn something you’ve never dreamed of before.

There are times in our lives we don’t know why we’re “on hold.” Are we meant to discover during those times? Discovery inherently means you don’t seek particular information, because you don’t know what’s out there. You simply start seeking.

Magnifying Glass smFollow the course of knowledge where it leads you.

Of course at a point your discovery may lead you to understand there is a path of  information you want to pursue. It may open up worlds of further discovery for you.

Or something as mundane as job opportunities.

 


 

Photo Credit (magnifying glass) Elisabeth Burrell © Copyright 2016 — Fotolia

back to school

This week the children in my area go back to school.

Of course that brings back memories of my own school days. Kindergarten, when we all had bird stickers to identify the cubby where we hung up our jackets and placed our lunch boxes. (My bird was a Baltimore Oriole.) Lunch boxes, perhaps with Barbie or Mickey Mouse, their thermoses and the way they smelled. The daily peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

first grade
Me in first grade.

First grade and learning to read. “See Tag. See Tag Run. Run, Tag, Run.” I already knew how to read and zipped through that book in a flash. My teacher didn’t know what to do with me. It remained that way all through grade school.

Second grade, we’d moved cross-country, so a new school. Sixth grade, another new school. High school, going from our small K-8 to the very large school “in town.” College, first a community college, then away in the dorms, then at a local university at night while I worked full-time.

I miss it and I don’t. I miss the special day of shopping with my mom when I was in grade school, picking out patterns for dresses she’d make, choosing the new shoes I’d have to break in. When I was in college, seeing the syllabus and believing this semester everything would be done on time, the books read, the tests prepared for, the papers written, no last minute panic.

Yes. I have those dreams where I didn’t go to school all semester and now it’s finals. More often, I have dreams that no matter how hard I try, I cannot succeed in college. At some point in my sleepy state I stop getting frustrated and say, “why am I doing this? I already have a degree.”

(Probably a good thing I have no training in psychology or I’d be analyzing myself into a frenzy trying to figure that one out. The broad meaning might be clear to experts, but the application in my life would probably elude me.)

crayons lightstock_142210_medium_user_7579580 lr
© Alex Workman – Lightstock

I still like learning. I like being challenged. I take online courses, both credit and non-credit, whenever I can. I’d like to brush up on my French, or more practically, learn Spanish.

If I lived closer to my mom, I’d take her shopping for some new shoes and go to lunch like we used to when I was little. Those outings meant a lot to her, and a trip like that would do my heart some good.