Friday, January 16, 2015

Regrets

It’s popular to assert that you have no regrets.  I’m not sure what that’s about.  As I continue to cruise toward the end of my 72nd year, I have a few.  Several come to mind right away, and they mostly have to do with education.

Somehow I got through grade school without memorizing the multiplication tables.  How is that even possible? 

In the 12th grade I decided math was beyond my ken.  At the time I blamed it on an incompetent teacher, but the fact is that I just gave up and went on to other things.  I wish I hadn’t.  Oddly enough, I spent many of the years following working on economic issues that required more math than I was comfortable with.  It’s a good thing the computer age had begun to dawn.  I’m not sure what I’d do with statistics equations or calculus, but it does seem to me to be a hole in my reservoir of acquired knowledge.

Several times in the past few months I’ve been shopping in stores where clerks seamlessly switch between English and Spanish as they work with different customers.  I had a decent knowledge of high school and college German, and as soon as the requirement was met, I stopped working on it.  Greek?  A tad.  Hebrew?  Not a chance.  In recent years I have struggled (but not too hard) to gain a foothold in enough tourist phrases to get around in several languages.  You know: yes, no, thank you, where’s the toilet, that sort of thing.  I’ve come to believe that everyone should be fluent in at least two.  I wish I was.  For what it’s worth, I recommend Spanish and Mandarin.

I didn’t really learn to study until I was teaching college level courses.  I didn’t want to be only a chapter ahead.  I was determined to know everything there was to know about what I was teaching.  My own undergraduate experience would have been so much more fulfilling if I had had better study skills.  My grandchildren have developed fine study skills and are absorbing so much more than I did at their age.  Now, can they think critically?  That’s what I do well, and I hope they do also.  

Curiously, by almost any standard I have had a very successful life.  What can I say except thanks be to God.

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