Lifetime Learning

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The boy and I went to a Frontiers of Astronomy lec­ture at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History tonight to learn about grav­i­ta­tion­al waves from Dr. Kelly Holley-Bockelmann. Here’s a sim­i­lar ver­sion of her talk:

For a quick run-down about the im­por­tance of grav­i­ta­tion­al waves: Top 5 Targets of a Gravity Wave Observatory.

I’d for­got­ten how much I missed hang­ing around a cam­pus and go­ing to ran­dom lec­tures and learn­ing new things straight from the ex­perts. That was one of the high­light of at­tend­ing a uni­ver­si­ty. Plus the snacks af­ter!

It was my son’s idea to at­tend, and even though it was way past his bed­time, he learned a bunch, and even asked the as­tro­physi­cist an in­tel­li­gent ques­tion about the “pres­sure” of grav­i­ta­tion­al waves that she was able to ex­plain to a 3rd grad­er. It was def­i­nite­ly a more in­tel­li­gent ques­tion than the one about time trav­el. I’m su­per proud of him for hav­ing the gump­tion to ask a ques­tion when he was the youngest in a room with hun­dreds of peo­ple in it.

After the lec­ture we went up to the ob­ser­va­to­ry and got to take a gan­der at the moon. It was a first for both of us, and amaz­ing! Then we had the afore­men­tioned snacks, head­ed home, and he passed out in the car. I need to start loop­ing my­self in to the lo­cal lec­ture cir­cuit. There are too many col­leges around for me to con­tin­ue ig­nor­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties they pro­vide.

I might even be able to haul along my son, since he seems to be in­to the sci­ence-re­lat­ed ones at least. I guess that runs in the fam­i­ly too.

Beginner’s Mind

Monday, 31 May 2010

The in­ex­pe­ri­enced teacher, fear­ing his own ig­no­rance, is afraid to ad­mit it. Perhaps that courage on­ly comes when one knows to what ex­tent ig­no­rance is al­most uni­ver­sal. Attempts to cam­ou­flage it are sim­ply a waste, in the long run, of time.

If the teacher is slow of wit, he may well be ter­ri­fied by stu­dents whose minds move more quick­ly than his own, but he would be bet­ter ad­vised to use the live­ly pupil for scout work, to ex­ploit the quick­er eye or sub­tler ear as look-out or lis­ten­ing post.


There is no man who knows so much about, let us say, a pas­sage be­tween lines 100 to 200 of the sixth book of the Odyssey that he can’t learn some­thing by re-read­ing it WITH his stu­dents, not mere­ly TO his stu­dents. If he knows Guido’s Donna Mi Prega as well as I now know it, mean­ing mi­cro­scop­i­cal­ly, he can still get new light by some cross-ref­er­ence, by some re­la­tion be­tween the thing he has ex­am­ined and re-ex­am­ined, and some oth­er fine work, sim­i­lar or dis­sim­i­lar.

I be­lieve the ide­al teacher would ap­proach any mas­ter­piece that he was pre­sent­ing to his class al­most as if he had nev­er seen it be­fore.

Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading