Tag Archives: education

The Forever Student

There’s a technique of framing arguments (which is really a bit of a cop-out) by dividing THE WORLD into 2 camps. You’ve probably seen it before and used it as well – Lord knows I have.

There are two kinds of people in the world, man. People who totally understand why pineapple on pizza is amazing and then there’s barbaric heathens, destroying the foundations of Western civilization with their disdain of this culinary delight.

It’s dramatic and eye-grabbing. I mention it because of how tempting it was to use here for this because here is something I do wonder about whether there are two camps:

People who seek to learn for life and those who mail it in once formal schooling ends.

There’s definitely shades of interest and intent between these two positions, but sometimes it doesn’t seem it.

Now, as I title this post “The Forever Student”, I don’t mean this as that one guy you knew from college who seemed to be trying to figure out a way to never graduate, much to the chagrin of his parents or eventually his credit rating as he amassed a student loan debt that would rival the gross domestic product of many first world nations. (Side note – Why is there always talk about first world and third world countries, yet no one even mentions second world? These things bother me… and yes, bother me way more than they should).

All of this swirled in my head a little bit yesterday as I attended a strength training seminar at my gym.  Two exceptional coaches/lifters in Swede Burns and Greg Panora came through for a 7+ hour seminar covering any topic you wanted to throw at them, as well as hands on coaching on the “big 3” lifts of the squat, bench press and deadlift.  It was the second time I’ve been to a seminar they put on and it was exceptional – they could not have been more generous with their time, knowledge and teaching.  I’m a better lifter today for having been part of this.  Without question.

The reason this idea of the forever student jumped out at me was noticing the people who weren’t there versus those who were. Why, you undoubtedly ask?  Simple – there are plenty of lifters in that very gym who could have gotten a ton out of this somewhat rare opportunity to pick the brains of two of the best around while having them give direct feedback on the finer points of their lifts. But they weren’t there… and that baffles me.  Because they absolutely needed to be… which isn’t an insult to any of them (unless they are one of those people who actively thinks they are better than the coaches who came… and they absolutely are NOT).  It’s just stating a fact – none of them hold all-time world records and the funniest thing is that those who do will admit to all of the top-notch coaching that allowed them to get there.

I just don’t understand the mentality of “No thanks…I’m good as-is and have it all figured out.”  You know the types.  The ones who cannot accept any advice, no matter how learned or proficient the person providing it because…hey, I cannot imagine fixing anything.

Now, before I get accused of virtue signaling (a term that gets trotted out… and incorrectly… way too often), it’s quite the opposite.  This isn’t me giving myself a self high five – I just cannot imagine anything but being a student because I know that there’s mountains of things I don’t have figured out in any way, shape or form.  Why wouldn’t I want to listen to pros and hope to get even incrementally better than yesterday?  I will be the first to admit I need work in any of a number of areas.

I think at a fundamental level that a big reason for my position on this is I refuse to think of myself as a static person where everything is sit, never to change… which also means to never improve.

Hence, I hope genuinely hope I kick my silly ego out of the way as often as possible and embrace the fun of not knowing how much more there is to learn… but giving the effort to try and find out.

Confessions of an Educational Mercenary

With each passing year, I gain a greater appreciation for education, learning, reading and all of the food for the mind that is available in the world.  I often say that if I hit Powerball tomorrow, I would definitely like to go back and get another degree in something for the pure pleasure of learning without the worry or concern of the grades that went with it.  Well, after taking at least a year to not do much of anything besides play golf, lift, read, travel and further cement my plans to assert my rightful claim as heir to the Polish monarchy (Hey, just because that was several posts ago doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about it).

A big pile of knowledge Thinking back on my time in college, I was an utter educational mercenary.  I was completely fixated on getting into the best law school possible, so my grades were everything.  I only skipped a single class in my entire college career… and that was so I had more time to study for another class.  I was completely disciplined in my approach to school and studying and it paid off well when I graduated magna cum laude (missing summa cum laude by the difference of a single B+ being an A-) and never getting worse than a A- from 2nd semester of freshman year on.

I don’t mention any of this to brag or to shout “Ooh!  Ooh!  Look at me!  Love me!  LOOOOOVE ME!”… although you should both (a) look at me on account of the fact I am so easy on the eyes and (b) love me because I am just one loveable son of a gun.  No, I bring this fact up to show where my focus resided – the number.  The grade.  Pure and simple.  This was my target and I would do all I could (ethically) to hit it.  Heck, I can remember taking a Latin class and I had certain portions of the Miles Gloriousus so completely memorized that when I had to translate it for a test, all I needed to see was the first 3 words of the passage and I could just write out the next 3 lines without looking back at the Latin.  But what I did I get out of that poem after the fact?  Hmm… probably very little.

While this numbers fixation certainly helped in in achieving my purpose and I am proud of all I put into reaching that goal, there is one element of it that I do wonder about occasionally on a clear Summer night as I enjoy a cold adult beverage on my patio: If I never worried about my grades and was only focused on true learning, what would have been the result?  Would I have gotten better grades?  Worse?  Would I have better absorbed topics I would carry with me to this day?

I do still carry some of the things I learned in college with me to this day and I certainly learned quite a bit from the professors who really were able to bring new and fascinating concepts to life.  This happened quite a bit in my philosophy classes, truth be told and I’m glad those lessons still stick with me and shape the way I think for I am far better off for having had those experiences.

Today I am seeking to give myself another shot at learning for learning’s sake, mostly through what I choose to read and such.  Ideally I would like to set up my own little personal educational curriculum to round myself out in areas of interest to me where I am not as strong as I would like to be (fine art jumps most readily to mind).  Yes, those damn Jesuits got their hooks into me deep in college and there’s no going back now from my obsession with developing the whole person.  In a way, this entire blog is proof of that.

The mercenary is retired… long live the reborn learner.