Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I’ll stop learning when I’m dead

So here I am doing one of the more stressful parts of my job: auditing the courses people submit to us as part of their recertification requirements.  I wrote about it before <here>, but when a course does not qualify, I contact them and tell them that I will be removing it from their record and that they will need to take another class.

Here is a response I received: “That is very disappointing to hear.  I will be sure not to attend any future presentations by Mr. B…”  Suffice it to say we had a big laugh about this one in our office; what a baby.  It was only one hour of the 18 hours this person needed to accumulate over 3 years.  When I teach a whole day class they get 6 hours.

But then it struck me, how sad!  These are those people that I talk about in some of my my posts (and what I hint at in the title of this post); they come to my classes, sit in the back and either constantly browse on their phone (Facebook, porn?), or have their sunglasses on so you can’t see that they are actually sleeping.  These are those people that go home after a day’s of work grab a six pack of bud light out of the fridge and plop themselves in front of the TV and pass out, even before going to bed.  Their wives (spouses) either have affairs or have gained so much weight because their sex lives have gone to hell anyway, that it does not matter anymore.  This is what a couple of six packs, ESPN, FOX news and maybe a few porn sites during my classes do for them.  Figuratively these people are already dead, but they don’t know it yet, but mentally they are, they stopped learning.

That’s what the title of this blog refers to.  A lot of people that I encounter in my profession sit through my classes but they do not want to learn.  They have no interest in being educated.  They go through the motions.  I wish that I could kick them out, deny them their certificate, but I can’t.  I mention in one of my posts, that the thought that I may educate one or two persons in a class of forty is enough.  Even here that serenity prayer that I introduced in my previous post is applicable:  “Please give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I am finishing this post on a well deserved vacation to Newfoundland.  I took this photograph of an iceberg floating off the east coast.  This is what is so important and frustrating to me: global warming, environmental issues, and the "I don't give a damn" attitude of some of my students. 
I may be a dilatant, but it is better than being ignorant.  When I went to graduate school, I did not only take courses that applied to my degree; I went berserk trying to get an education.  This was probably to my detriment, I did not graduate with a 4.0.  My class load was always too heavy, but I wanted to learn as much as I could.  That was important to me, learning!  Getting older, after a full day of work and two and a half hour total commuting I am tired when I come home.  But the least thing I can do is watch a YouTube video here or there about growing or taking care of Bonsais, which is one of my hobbies.  I am trying to learn something there.  I read when my eyes and brain can handle it.  I usually read non-fiction, I want to learn!  At home we rarely watch TV; maybe the news and a cooking or a home show so now and then, but that’s it.  This summer we’ll watch the Tour de France.

It is absolutely amazing that the country where everybody used to look up to for its education, its research and modernity is now cutting education, making fun of people who are educated and is in a race to the bottom, for the lowest common denominator.  A university education was affordable when I came to the U.S. in 1979 to study.  Now they have raised the cost of university education so high that it is out of reach of the common man.  We are creating a tremendous class system in this country between the wealthy educated upper middle class and not so wealthy lower middle class and the working class.  No wonder some talk about “the educational elite” as if it is a stigma.  No wonder we want to go back to burning coal for energy as opposed to developing high-tech means of generating energy.   


Sir Francis Bacon is commonly quoted of first saying that “Knowledge is Power.”  Bacon who lived from 1561 to 1626 is considered the father of scientific method.  For example Thomas Jefferson, himself a(n amateur) scientist, considered Bacon one of the greatest men that had ever lived.  I think it is true that knowledge is important and power.  One of the things I treasure most is learning and knowledge.  When I cannot learn I would die or be dead.  During my commute I listen to Doctor Radio on Sirius-XM, I need to learn; I often joke that by now I could sit for my medical boards and pass them, except I never dissected a cadaver.

All my bitching and moaning aside, learning and knowledge is not only good for you mentally.  It has been shown to slows down our mental decline in old age, helps us socially and may even help us financially.  Finally, when we are all educated, society will benefit as well, only then can we change the world for the better for all and eliminate the great divide between people.  


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