Keep the Community Alive in Community College
- A Blog about Fullerton College -

Friday, March 6, 2009

Taking Classes vs. Learning

Yesterday I asked a member of the science faculty for help with an audio project on the Asian citrus psyllid, and his first answer was that he's too busy teaching classes to keep up with the topic -- that topic, plant pests, being his specialty, you understand.

I sympathize completely. School really can get in the way of learning, whether you're teaching the classes or taking them.

It is one of the great blessings of not being a serious student -- that is, I'm not going for a degree or a certificate or even for a grade -- that I can concentrate on learning what really matters.

I take only classes that meet my specific need to learn, and I concentrate on those parts of the coursework that I care about and just don't worry about the rest. It's amazing how much I'm learning this way, but it's also sad how much school tries to get in the way -- how much I'm supposed to read that isn't particularly useful, or how many topics I'm supposed to cover that aren't important to me, or how many topics are important but aren't given enough weight in class.

I guess being older and really focused gives me a different perspective. I haven't got time to worry about details that are, in all senses of the word, academic. I'm too busy on a grand adventure.

Thoreau wrote, "If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets."

I take that to mean, don't sweat the small stuff. It works for me. You just need to be sure what stuff is small and what's big.

By the way, the science guy ended up being a big help. :)

Photo Credit: David Hall,
USDA. Agricultural Research Service