This is your opportunity to meet Samantha Sue (totally fictitious granddaughter) as and when she came into my den, closed the door behind her, and said: “Hey, TOM (our fond term for Tired Old Man), if you have the time, let us share a few minutes of straight talk between and across generations.” I asked her to sit down while I fixed the drinks; coffee for me, and a soda for her. We looked fondly at each other, unhampered by family or years, and the whisper of a smile bounced around both faces. Her good looks were handsome; a quality I know that lasts for decades. She opened our session with an analysis of her friends and all their apparent futures. What she said and what I heard simmered, becoming gently sparring groups of intelligent people; differing only in their approach to immediate future plans. Stripped of school jargon, it became a wide but single topic of life, learning and education.
Bubbles in the soda bounced and sparkled as my coffee cooled. Then I realized my thoughts and ideas could influence Sue and her coterie of friends. With some difficulty, I re-arranged ideas into one overlapping and coherent whole. The concept would be to weave, intermesh, and interlock a personal long life built around their deeply ingrained ideas and strengths that always support the inner self. First, give me the privilege of stating a few ground rules:“Sue, if you cannot hear me, interrupt at once. Otherwise, save all questions and comments for a later free-wheeling session. If you have an I-phone, tablet, or other electronics, feel free to tape and later make your comments/questions.”
Learning is such a long-lived, interlocking, and continuing process that it will never end. Your lungs learn to breathe, quickly. And at your end, the lungs stop. In between there are very long years with experiences , tasks, and chores. Naturally, some changes will cause learning to take a different route or some internal adjustment. In this context, learning never ceases. The accelerated process of any school system, anywhere, is to hasten the learning process just to make the rest of life pleasant and enjoyable. In terms you can readily understand, students really and truly learn digital dexterity with/through computers but true learning does not pour through a screen. You make change handling coins and currency; not shuffling icons on a screen. Computers may speed the process but not the learning. Ever wonder how Egyptians built tall Pyramids without bulldozers and tall cranes?
Technology, at all levels, is outstripping most learning processes. The changing elements of our present life have eliminated stagecoaches, Mississippi River steamboats, wagon trains, sailmakers, hansom cabs, stables and hitching rails. We have jet planes, high speed cars, even TV, air conditioning, central plumbing, computers with the Internet, cell phones and an un-ending list of more things requiring quick learning and faster education.
In the briefest number of hard-hitting words: No high school dropout is smart/wise enough to drop out of the education process by making a decision that lasts the rest of their natural life. Even so, it is never too late to return to education system and continue and finish a step of the process. Rather than discuss, just read newspaper “help wanted ads” with most specifying some level of education and training. Other jobs clean up after the rodeo.
Let me straighten out a gross misunderstanding about college majors. It is your choice. It is not a lifelong commitment to work in that area. TeeCee, my inimitable wife, majored in psychology and enjoyed a brilliant career in systems with a high technology company. A son, with an MBA in Petroleum Land Management, now does organizational work for a religious organization. Of course, Sue, you know I majored in management and went into computer processing where I became a manager.
This can be a treasure trove for you and your buddies at the edge of high school graduation. I believe all would benefit from an honest interchange of thoughts. Could you get us all together somewhere, sometime, and some place, so we could bounce this for hours, if need be. You would show yourself as a leader (I knew it all along) of the pack. They would appreciate being recognized as thinking adults. Ask a truthful, valid question and you receive a truthful response return. Take this opportunity and joyfully show how Ethelinda is so wrong. In turn, she may gleefully remind you of the errors in your ways. It is my earnest belief these open discussions with peers help you take the next step to righteousness. Does that mean T. O. M. is right? Of course not. What it says, boldly if not quietly, that you are adult with capabilities to help you reach intelligent decisions. Drinks and snacks are on me, of course.
Grady Easley is a Huntsville resident and weekly columnist for The Item.