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