Primary school, elementary school, junior high, high school. Twelve, maybe thirteen years in school. Add two more if you went to preschool. Add more if you went to college. Our formal schooling took a lot of time, and we learned a lot of capital letter stuff and crossword puzzle stuff: the periodic table, the presidents of the United States, the state capitols, great battles in history, the amendments to the constitution, vocabulary lists, and more.
But life has taught me so much more.
I went to my 50-Year Golden Reunion at Gordon College this past weekend, driving from New Jersey to Wenham, Massachusetts (north of Boston) with my classmate, Judith Krom. In chapel, we sat next to each other for four years in alphabetical order in numbered rows, class by class. Judith and I were both “Kro. . . . .”
On our road trip, we talked nonstop, and I do mean nonstop, about life and what we have learned in the 50 years since we graduated from Gordon. Here are a few of our highlights.
1. Learning is lifelong.
School is a nice, safe cocoon, but when you jump feet first into your chosen vocation, that’s when you start learning. In fact, we learned more on our first jobs than we ever learned in school. We hustled in these jobs, working long hours just to make it through, learning to manage our time wisely, trying to do the best job we could do before going home exhausted.
Both Judith and I went on to earn higher education degrees, but we used our everyday work experiences as examples in our written class assignments. By day, we learned from supervisors and work associates; by night we learned how and why these associates worked the way they did. The extra courses and degrees? Those are all extras, refinements of our knowledge and essential to our personal and professional growth. The classroom learning polished off some of our rough edges and hopefully made us wiser.
Then when we retired and finished our work requirements, we both went back to school again. Learning is lifelong.
2. People are important. Nurture relationships.
We learned more from interactions with other people than we learned from our textbooks. Work associates, friends, and family members all gave assistance along the way. When we were willing to listen to their cogent advice, they helped us avoid physical, emotional, even financial disaster; they opened doors to other experiences and opportunities; they encouraged us in hard times; and they carried us (or covered for us) when we couldn’t quite make it on our own.
Our relationships grew deeper over time as we experienced together successes, sorrows, embarrassments, troubles, accidents, and mistakes. Our true friends stuck with us through it all.
3. Laugh a lot. Petty things don’t matter in the long run.
We talked about our insecurities of our early working days. The old “If I knew then what I know now, my life would be different” entered the conversation. It’s true. But learning is a process, and it takes time. In hindsight, we can laugh about our mistakes. We acknowledged that we learned from our mistakes as well. Mistakes brought a deeper awareness of factors in situations that we had overlooked.
Our advice to others: Don’t get caught in absurdities or petty cricisms, or even self-imposed limitations.
4. Read, but do more than that, think. Think about what you read.
Read broadly and deeply. Pursue those interests you could not develop in school when you had to take the prescribed courses for your degree. Compare other disciplines with your own. I was lucky enough to enroll in a master’s degree program at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California where the administrators and professors emphasized an interdisciplinary approach. Although I was seeking a degree in educational administration, I worked through the master’s program in public administration, meeting with health care workers, fire workers, postal workers, city administrative officials, and others in public service. This led to an awareness that our problems in educational administration were not unique; others faced these or simiar problems. By teaming on class projects, we broadened our ideas and developed a greater appreciation for our public servants.
5. Write. You do have a voice. Write.
Part of my lifelong learning plan is to read more and to write more. The form of reading for me has changed a great deal. While I used to read more fiction and nonfiction books, now I read more fiction and nonfiction posts. When I do read novels, I tend to read them on my Kindle, although I do love holding a hardback book in my hands when I read.
I started my blog on a lark, just to see if I could do it. At first, I felt a bit intimidated by the sheer numbers of blogs written by such good writers. But I have kept with it, and I have gotten some positive comments on my efforts.
6. You can do anything you want…just set your mind to it and do it.
Posts I have read today:
Sometimes we don’t write because we fear what others might say. August McLaughlin responds to that fear in “Smash the Tomatoes: Dealing with Bad Reviews.”
Kristen Lamb, WANA guru, writes about Steve Jobs and 5 Tips for Being a Successful Author in her may 23, 2013 post.
Here’s the article that Kristen refers to in her post. “Wisdom for Writers from Steve Jobs Yes! THAT Steve Jobs.”
The Last Meow
1. Wake owner up early.
2. Start the day with a good catfeast.
3. Nap often, on owner’s computer keyboard preferably.
4. Act cute and get treats.
5. Be annoying and get treats.
6. Nap on the windowsill in the sun.
7. Eat dinner, and then get ready for bed.
Meow for now. =<^b^>=