Friday, June 6, 2014


     I am a forever humble student who loves to learn. I can learn no matter how bad the teacher or how hard the chair. I learn just by getting my foot in the door, for in every class, I learn from the students who are also there to learn. Did you ever wonder what makes a particular person sign up for a particular subject? Why does psychology fascinate some and bore others? Who loves history? I never did until I had to teach it. Who is interested in turtles until a whole swarm of them inhabits a local pond? 

     Recently, I signed up for a course in which the leader is an excellent facilitator, not a teacher. The teachers speak from very short videos on Ted Talks. Each one is an expert in his or her field and offers just enough information to get the viewer thinking. Then the facilitator poses questions based on the video. 

     Today, one question was “What do you do or have you done when you have totally lost yourself and ended up in the”zone?” In other words, what makes you forget who and where you are so that you lose track of large amounts of time. One senior citizen in the class raised her hand and replied, “Sex.” We all lost it. She didn’t have to admit that she hadn’t had any for a very long time, but that made it even more amusing.
It wasn’t the interesting question nor the hilarious reponse that intrigued me; it was the fact that a person would reveal such personal information in front of a group of total strangers. How fascinating that people can be so open--that was part of my learning.

     One woman in the course relishes every second she gets to respond to anything. She uses this time to flaunt all of her lifetime achievements. She is,obviously, very well-educated, well-traveled and well-it’s-all-about-me. I can learn from this woman as she has many interesting comments; I can also learn the value of humility and recognize the voice of needy. 

     The average age of the people in the class is probably 68 so the answers and reactions are reflective of our age and experience. The facilitator is in her forties. She must have a wonderful time describing some of our “wisdom” to her psychology professor husband over dinner. 

     In one of the videos, there was a quote from some famous unknown that said something about people whose minds wander are unhappy. Some participants were visibly disturbed by this thought. Because it was quoted and touted as a practical theory, we tend to believe it to be true. I immediately thought, “that’s not true.” Thirty years ago, I would not have questioned the legitimacy of the premise; I would have gone home and felt guilty when I found myself thinking of ice cream while my husband was talking about his tennis match. What I learned was not that some guy came up with a theory and some other guy embraced it as gospel. What I learned was how far I have come in my thinking and evaluating process. 

     My father gave me many gifts. One for which I am most grateful is the hunger to learn--no matter where I am and no matter from whom. Thanks, Dad.