Archive for October, 2010

The Learning of Importance

October 16, 2010

It may seem that I have transposed words in the title, but I assure you that the order is very intentional.

We all have been told, taught, and perhaps trampled, with the phrase, “The Importance of Learning,” but what do we know of the reciprocal? Rest assured, I am certainly not disputing nor discounting the value of this age old lesson, not only would that be ludicrous but absolutely contrary to my being as a lifetime learner. The intent of my question is to search for a deeper understanding of how the mere grammatical transposition of the two terms provides a different answer.

For instance, if I consider this an academic question, specifically an algebraic word problem, I utilize what I was taught in high school, by my beloved math teacher. It still amazes me to this day, some 30 years later, how vividly I can remember her, and how well she taught. Perhaps that memory is impacted by the fact that I got A’s, … I love math (& science, thanks to Dad), the logic appeals to my brain. That being said, you would be correct in deducing that English (particularly Literature) was my weaker subject, and that is a “can of worms” for another time. Perhaps the memory, and the associated clarity, is because she was my teacher for 4 out of my 5 years, while oddly enough, always calling me by the wrong name (Mike). Regardless of the cause, my purpose is not affected by that phenomenon, and that discussion would be an expansive one.

Sometimes she would say, “Listen here, Sweet-sweet,” which she called everyone, if not by their name (or the wrong one), and “you have to READ it WITH pencil AND paper.” That is an incredibly valuable lesson, one that can be applied in so many aspects of our lives, and one that has served me well. The clarity was not caused by understanding the quadratic polynomials, logarithms, or trigonometric functions. It was not due to the “what” of the course, but instead due to the “HOW.” It was due to how she presented the material, how well she explained the mechanics, how she interacted with / involved the students, how well she instructed the “how” of getting it done, and how it could be applied elsewhere. We all seek answers, but that is just half of the equation, but I will pause here, before I get off on a tangent (unintentional mathematical references), I will delve into that in the next post.

The phrase, “the importance of learning,” is intended to focus our attention on how we learn what we learn. Meanwhile, the reciprocal, “the learning of importance,” as I introduced here, is intended to focus our attention in a different (but not necessarily inverse — again another unintentional mathematical reference, however accurate & appropriate) direction. The intention is not “how we learn what we learn” but “HOW to apply what we have learned.”

Smart as Peanuts, Thank you, Charles M. Shulz

October 6, 2010

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. You don’t have to actually answer the questions, just read, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields, but the applause dies, awards tarnish, achievements are forgotten, accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier? The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards, they are the ones that care.