I had all these posts on this very blog back in 2013, wondering if college was worth it, etc. I talked a lot, and you were very patient in listening, and gave some nice opinions.
One thing that was interesting about my class was that it was about the American school system! So, not only was I learning, but it was easy to ponder things about what being educated means and why that’s important.
There were some small moments when I’d think about how much time I was putting into the class, and I’d wonder, “Is this really the very best use of my time?”
But then I’d think, “You know when you can wonder if your Harvard-professor-led class is a waste of your time? When you don’t waste any other time. If you can tell me that you never plop down for Wheel for Fortune while you eat dinner… if you can tell me that you don’t surf instagram or twitter, then you can start wondering whether it’s a waste of time to learn something new. Until then, nope.
I did wonder about the whole, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” thing. As we’ve seen on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, smart adults forget simple things all the time. Because once we’re not in class, are we going to forget it all?
I think that’s partly what was behind my whole wondering if it was a waste thing… When is Milliken v Bradley ever going to come up in my life? Then again, look at Ken Jennings. He remembers everything from everything, and it seems to help him. Maybe this stuff will indeed come up in my life again!
Also, I will say that even if this specific stuff doesn’t come up, some general lessons I learned were very nice. For one thing… I know my dad always tells me this. But it became even more apparent in the class. Never trust any study at face value!
Sometimes we’d learn that test scores were improving… just to later learn that the test had been changed, or the cutoff score to reach a level of proficiency had been lowered. So, you really have to pay attention to every single variable.
We also had to try to communicate our thoughts in the discussion board each week, while backing them up with facts. And of course we all had to do it in a respectful manner – in print (which I think is the hardest medium to be understood and stay calm, since you can’t see expressions or hear inflections)!
So, the class was good in a lot of ways. And I do feel very happy that even if I maybe don’t remember every court case or every detail in the future, I still have a much better understanding of the school system – which gives me a better understanding of politics. That makes me feel more equipped to talk to people.
And this is where I’ll pick up next time.