When I was in school, I usually got straight A’s in elementary school and A’s and B’s for most of junior high and high school. I tried to relate subjects to one another so that I didn’t have just bits of knowledge, but a wider scope of knowledge about, say, France. For instance, I took 4 years of French in high school, traveled from London to Boulogne Sur Mer by Hovercraft for a visit my Mom arranged which I will never forget, and I studied food, music, religion, etc., capping off my knowledge by learning the Marseilles (the French National Anthem) and a handful of Christmas Carols and Folk songs. A similar teaching method was employed by my Humanities teacher at Pima College who expected the students to learn 7 facets of the countries we covered: language, culture, art, architecture, religion, technology and government. I actually took several classes from the same teacher simply because I found this method very helpful for me, and because I prefer to learn from teachers who are excited about their topics and who make those topics interesting.
As far as I can tell, we are here on this Earth for a span of time—no one knows exactly how long—and most of us would prefer to be busy rather than laying around bored, right? I especially love learning new ideas in psychology and therapy, but my goal for this coming summer is to take a class on yard work. I want to learn how to prune my bushes and trees without bugging my neighbor to do it for me. After that, I want to learn how to put in a drip system that waters my plants all at once after I turn on the hose. Then, I plan to learn more about Africa and all the countries on that continent, probably using the 7 facet technique. Anyway, the more I learn, the more I realize there is so much I don’t know. Plus, all along the way, I’ve tutored and mentored many students—some American, some Japanese, some French and some German.
There was one thing I really needed to learn, though. When I took classes at various community colleges, nearly everything was mapped out for me. I did have electives, but what I really wanted to study had to wait for a while until I had studied the basics: delayed gratification. After I got my Associates’ Degree, I had a bit more freedom to choose classes that interested me, like Classical Music and Basic Art. But, better still was studying for my Masters’ Degree, because, except for the usual statistics courses, I had the opportunity to study various aspects of my favorite topic—Psychology—Psychology of Learning, Psychology in the Media, Psychology and the Brain, Primates and Evolutionary Psychology, and so on. Total gratification!
What you don’t know is that I plan to get a Doctorate Degree in either Psychology or Education and, then, I’ll be able to study exactly what I want to study, more or less. On that new leg of my journey, I'll have a new group of mentors and tutors to help me reach my own goal of being "Dr. Dolores." Meanwhile dear students, if you can deal with the lower grades where you learn the basics of what folks in our society find important, then, you will understand the occasional references to Oscar Wilde, Shaka Zulu or the U.S.S.R. in the media. You will be able to impress your friends when they ask you, “What are they talking about?” You will be able to smile, modestly, and explain. And, when you make it to Graduate School, you, too, will be able to study whatever it is you love most (underwater basket weaving?).
Just remember this: My hope for you is that you will remember to share your knowledge with others along the way by tutoring and mentoring them. "Pass it forward."