What Have I Learned?

Today was the last day of classes. Tomorrow is the so-called “Reading Day”, when students are given a day off to prepare for finals. As if one day is enough. But, the student approach is still alive, even if I can’t feel it; one of my classmates asked me if I wanted to go to a keg party (I’m sure he was joking). My demurral prompted him to reply: “No class tomorrow, it’s just like a Friday night, right?”. Ah, for the good old days.

So, instead of standing around a keg of Bud Light, I think I’ll ruminate on the lessons learned of the just-over semester.

1. Do all homework, always, on time. I have learned the hard way that the ONLY way to understand mathematics is to work problems. The lesson has not fully seated in my brain pan….there are still times when I think I can simply read the material over and over and the full light of total comprehension will shine on my dumb ass self.

2. Take good notes. Easy to say, hard to do. Some of my classes this term made me wish I knew shorthand. Sometimes, all I did was scribble furiously for 50 minutes and then walk to the next class. When study time came, I didn’t have the slightest understanding of what I wrote-the professor said. It really sucks to have to read the text and re-write notes in the critical few days before a big test.

3. Review. I don’t do it, and I’m sure it’s going to bite me in these exams. At my age, retention is a crap shoot; and like dice, it’s not a winning strategy to bet on the player. The house (read: the school) always wins. I should start reviewing, like the professionals say, at least 4 weeks before exams. Which might have been possible but for the enormous number of increasingly difficult assignments, projects, and tests that are jammed into the last month. Today, on the last day of classes, I had a major test. I ask you….how screwed up is that?

4. Understand Me. No, that’s not a cry for help or attention, it is an acknowledgment that I ain’t 20 anymore. I cannot stay up all night cramming (I tried, and nearly died). It takes me longer to do the work, to process the material, to make the connections. Plan accordingly. Also, I think I need to accept that I can’t take 5 classes in a semester; it pains me to say that, but, friends, this stuff is hard and I take a long time to get ‘er done.

5. Have fun. A buddy of mine spent the 3 hours today before a test working on a project that is paying him very well for his self-acquired programming skills. I finally was forced, by my strong internal mechanism that might be called “Worry Wart”, to ask him why he was not acting just like me….you know, cramming, getting sweaty, scribbling furiously, scattering my stuff all over a desk. He looked at me and smiled, saying, as only a 20 year old guy can: “I’ll figure it out”. I get it, I remember it, I just can’t do it. But I should try to be more like him and less like me……

6. Illegitimi non Carborundum. Yes, I took two years of Latin in the 7th – 8th grades, but that was literally eons ago. But I saw this on a big guy’s desk, somewhere in my travels through Work. It means “Don’t let the bastards get you down”.

Good words, those.


1 Response to “What Have I Learned?”

  1. 1 Becky May 5, 2008 at 8:33 am

    well said!

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“Life’s hard, son. It’s harder when you’re stupid.” — The Duke.

Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate,no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament.It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage. - Joseph Addison
The term informavore (also spelled informivore) characterizes an organism that consumes information. It is meant to be a description of human behavior in modern information society, in comparison to omnivore, as a description of humans consuming food. George A. Miller [1] coined the term in 1983 as an analogy to how organisms survive by consuming negative entropy (as suggested by Erwin Schrödinger [2]). Miller states, "Just as the body survives by ingesting negative entropy, so the mind survives by ingesting information. In a very general sense, all higher organisms are informavores." - Wikipedia

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