“I love learning”
That’s something I can say with ease, although the last 12 months (changing into a trickier role at work) have shown me that I prefer learning when I’m able to really grasp the point quickly. I’ve found to my dismay that my enthusiasm for endlessly pursuing difficult theories is very limited. I don’t think I’m totally alone there.
Back in Australia, the high school leaving exams used to be called the Tertiary Entrance Exams (TEE), and you had to study TEE subjects to sit the exams (no surprises there). I remember hearing that the Dux of my primary school hadn’t taken TEE subjects and seeing my headmaster be visibly silent with disappointment. When I asked my mother if I had to take them, she was shocked and replied something along the lines of “abso-bloody-lutely”. Five years later the same headmaster, now retired, sent me a card six months before my exams telling me that success was founded on proper preparation. I’ve kept that card, although I heed its advice far too infrequently.
“I’ve had a great education”
That’s also something I’ve said easily. If you asked me the days when my education was best, I could say categorically it was in year 7, at the ripe old age of 12. My teacher (the headmaster) was old school, and we’re talking seriously old school. I remember vividly how all our tests were handwritten in the most perfect cursive. We learnt well. We knew our stuff, that’s for sure, but we learnt by rote – memorising a rule, just because it was the rule. That was of learning has stayed with me to this very day, and I’m beginning to wonder if, instead of giving me a solid basis to work on, it has actually held me back.
Whilst writing has become a great joy of mine, initially I had terrible trouble learning to write essays. The topic of “personal voice” totally stumped me – how exactly were you supposed to give an essay personality if you weren’t allowed to use “I”? My contemporaries from other schools seemed to understand better, or at the very least be more comfortable with not understanding. I feel so frustrated when, after an afternoon attempting to learn, I’m still no more competent than I was before. My analytical skills are underdeveloped, which still makes my life difficult on a day to day basis – it’s totally absurd!
The world where I learnt how to learn, is over. It’s gone. I better get me some new skills, and get them stat. Things are moving fast, and the adaptable, the inquisitive, the analytical and the dedicated are going to reap the benefits. My early education was structured for the old world, and for that world it was a fantastic beginning. A solid foundation.
Having said all this, I can’t deny that there have been some benefits – a freakish ability to memorise lines from a film, phone numbers (sadly not birthdays), lyrics. You name it, I can memorise it. I’d also venture to say pretty accurate spelling 88.3% of the time, which is a boon. It’s not all bad.