|When I see Halley's Comet again...|
Never too Late to Learn
Yesterday, I got an email from my friend Yode. She was moved and empowered by the lesson on Confidence Thieves. Yode wrote that she had been feeling down because of an encounter with one of those thieves of confidence.
At 43, Yode was able to go back to college to complete the degree program she had started years before. When she shared the news with someone she believed to have been a close friend, the woman remarked that she should feel bad for having taken so long. “It must be strange sitting in class with people half your age.” The woman told her. Yode had already punished herself for taking “too” long. Earlier in the year, she wrote to tell me that she was “finally” completing her degree. And I wrote back that this was a tremendous accomplishment at any age.
Without telling you what I wanted to say to the woman who never tried to do what Yode did, let me get to the point of today's lesson; it is never too late to learn. I live in a country that takes pride in its freedoms; the greatest being the ability to think for one’s self. But lately I’ve been wondering about why we still sit in a cage with no lock.
Whenever I scan through the bagillion television channels I am amazed that the experience is a lot like the song Little Red Wagon; “The second verse is the same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse.” There is always someone screaming at someone else calling them names that have to be bleeped out even though you can always tell what had just been said.
I grew up with three channels and PBS. Somehow, we didn’t consider PBS a channel; it was a classroom. For the most part, this was all my family was allowed to watch. We could tune in to any show that had a guest black person for the night; something that was so rare, you knew that everyone in the neighborhood was also watching. The next day at school, everyone would try to mimic the steps of the Jackson Five or talk like Dianann Caroll on Julia. She was so proper.
For the most part though, my family had French lessons and studies in oceanography with Jacques Cousteau. We knew which butterfly pollenated which plant and when the next comet would appear. (By the way, I was 26 when Hallye’s Comet last showed up and will be 99 when she returns.)
“Never too late to learn,” my mother would say as she changed the channel to the PBS station. I wondered why she got to watch Columbo and Bonanza but I knew that I had better not ask.
Yesterday as I thought about Yodi’s email, I contemplated the amount of time and money we are willing to spend on how we look, what we drive and where we live but don’t give much regard for education.
America is falling way behind the developing nations in terms of education and innovation. Our world ranking in science and math is somewhere at the bottom of the list and everyday it gets worse.
Why then would someone try to put anyone down for wanting to learn and complete a degree?
The answer is as simple as it is sad; we don’t really value education. We like to think of ourselves as intellectuals, but we don’t want to do the work. We like our information in sound bites from Wikipedia, not from a day’s worth of searching and thinking. Rarely do we commit ourselves to doing what it takes to learn and keep learning.
I am always moved by adult learners who work and raise children while studying for exams and writing papers. The dedication required to go to college or go back after you are already earning a living is great and should be greatly appreciated.
It is never too late to learn, go to school, get a degree or just read a book.
So, I say to Yode and all of you who have joined and stayed with me on this year long quest to become your best self, “Congratulations.” Keep on learning. If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.
· Learn something new. Start with the idea and then spend some time researching it.
· Find a new book on a new topic and actually read it.
· Share what you learn with someone you love and be open to what they can add.
· Are you surrounded by learners?
· If not, find some folks who like to learn and join in.
While there is nothing new under the sun, there are many new things for you to uncover.
Be you, be well, keep learning
Bertice Berry, PhD.