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).
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.