Filling in the Gaps of My Education

As I get older I realize how little I know and how much more I need to learn. I am humbled by the vast gaps in my knowledge. But as the cliché goes, “You live and learn,” right?

For instance, geography—I know so little of the world. When the Princess was asking me the capitals of such-and-such country, I couldn’t answer her. She was able to answer only because she learned it from a strange, twisted cartoon on Qubo called, Jacob Two-Two. Through her I learned the capitals of Burkina Faso, Australia, and Senegal. (In case you were wondering, it’s Ouagadougou, Canberra, and Dakar, respectively.) I am thinking that as a parent I should try to help the Princess know more about the world because I have a feeling the schools won’t have time to teach it. Ideally, we would be able to learn things hands-on—i.e., visit the countries, use the currency, eat the food, dwell among the people, etc.—but we’re not in the financial/occupational position to do so. Still, we can use the library and focus on a country of interest and go from there. Maybe try to plan a vacation around it.

Literature. Even though I was an English major in college, there are many gaps there, too. Sure, I’ve read most of Shakespeare’s plays, but artfully avoided the history ones. I never read Chaucer, Beowulf, or Milton. If you were to ask me about the literary theories and critics, I might be able to recognize names, but would be hard pressed to give you details. (Maybe if it were closer to the time I was in college, I might remember a bit more.)

I don’t know if it was pregnancy or getting older that has totally made me forget, but I have decided to try expanding my reading lists to include those great classics that I’ve missed, and maybe I might review a bit of literary theory (right…). I have to say that I’m more inclined to look into those classics which my favorite authors recommend. (So it looks like I’ll be turning to Wikipedia for Canterbury Tales and Beowulf.)

History is another subject that I’m woefully ignorant about. I’m not proud of the fact—just recognizing that I am in danger of repeating some of the forefathers’/mothers’ mistakes. I like learning more about people’s lives and the more trivial aspects like what they ate, how they went to the bathroom, how they spent time with each other, what they wore, what society was like, etc.—not so much about dates, battles, and treaties. Lives of the rich and (in)famous always fascinated me—even today. (I get a kick reading the headlines from the tabloids in the supermarket and tend to read random bits online.) Funny thing is, I learned more about history through reading historical romances than in the history classes that I’ve taken.

Foreign Language (A Spoken One). Although I took Latin throughout high school and some in college, I regret not having taken another foreign language like French, Spanish, or even Russian. But more than anything, I want to learn Italian for my trip in 2012. Better get cracking on that.

HB has been trying to convince me that I should take a Korean language course, especially as one day it’s very likely that the Princess will know more Korean and I’ll feel left out. That’s OK. If it’s in the cards (that is, if we happen to spend a month or more in Korea), I’m sure I’ll learn more Korean than I’ll ever want to. Right now, I’m content with just picking up some Korean through watching the dramas and if I happen to be quizzing the Princess for an upcoming Korean test, if that’s anything.

Math. At some point or another, I’d like to be able to read and understand a company’s balance sheet and know whether or not it’d be a good investment for my portfolio, or if somehow the numbers seem too good to be true/leaving out something. But I tend to keep postponing this—maybe because there seems to be so many more interesting things to learn about.

Science. Surprisingly enough, even though I had a very hard time in my science classes at school, I was able to retain much more than I would have anticipated (with the exception of orgo chem and biochemistry—a dark, traumatic period of my life which I’d never like to revisit). The areas of science that I enjoy learning  about are food science (to be a better cook), immunology (to understand allergies/body’s self-healing mechanism better), botany (especially the medicinal properties of plants), genetics (esp. gene therapy), and so much more. My regret is not knowing more about earth science, but I’ll probably get bits and pieces through watching PBS and from the Princess, who seems to be interested in the weather.

Religion/Philosophy. I’ve always been fascinated by world religions, especially as it drives people to do crazy things in the name of their faith. More than anything, I admire their passion and single-minded focus because sometimes I feel I lack that. I know my dad would love it if I were to go back to church one day, but I still have some issues to resolve on my own, as well as need to find a church that I feel comfortable going to. I don’t like Bible-thumpers who like to spout out verses and self-righteously profess their faith in Christ, while acting un-Christian in their daily lives. I do like people who can openly discuss their issues on faith, and ways they’d like to help the world and their communities—not because of their faith in God or because they want to go to heaven—but because it’s the right thing to do. Note: I don’t want to be solicited or be given religious propaganda—that’s the quickest way to get me to run the opposite direction.

…This is only a small sampling of things I’d like to continue learning about. But when I think about it, it seems that experience is the best teacher. Life has its own curriculum in mind for me, and I welcome it.

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