The Blessing of Problems - Learning
One of the blessings of problems was my problematic educational journey. I was, through almost all of my elementary school education, an excellent student. Okay, I talked a lot in class when I shouldn't have, but, as far as grades were concerned, I was above average...in an average school system. When my parents moved from Pennsauken, NJ to Pittsburgh, PA, my father wanted his three sons to get a great education. So we moved to Mt. Lebanon, a southern suburb of Pittsburgh. Mt. Lebanon, at the time, had the 19th best school system in the entire nation. Mt. Lebanon also was an extremely rich community. Therefore, in a matter of moments, I went from an above average student grade wise and economically comfortable to feeling both dumb and poor. It was an emotional and intellectual shock to my system.
Looking back on my life, I realized that I put 2 + 2 together and came up with 18 as the answer. That was a mistake, but I didn't realize it. There have been several people that have helped me to wake up to that mistake. I am here to tell you that I'm not dumb nor am I poor. There are loads of people smarter and richer than me, but I am neither dumb and/or poor. However, it took me half my life to realize the mistake made in the early 1950s when my family moved to Pittsburgh.
That realization is why I still am teaching in my 70s. I know what feeling dumb and poor felt like. I don't want to relive that in my life nor do I want other students to waste decades of their lives feeling bad about themselves as I did. However, that learning process was often quite painful and will be for my students. We are all forced to face facts, ideas, beliefs, etc. that they got from their families and the society in which they grew up.
Case in point...I teach an online introduction to philosophy class to freshmen and have for years. To assist in the teaching process, I have used films as a teaching aid. Early in the semester, the class deals with the question of philosophy and religion. How do they function together? Along with their reading assignment, I have them view a movie: Inherit the Wind, which is a classic film of the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 in Dayton, TN.
While the movie is an interesting reflection of the times nearly a century ago, the Scopes Monkey Trial raises a handful of problems stopping the teaching of evolution.
Here are several artistic impressions of what the world looked like and how it was protected by the firmament.
From the biblical text, there are all sorts of other questions based upon especially the first dozen chapters of Genesis. Is the world flat? Are we the center of our solar system? Does the sun rotate around the earth along with all the other heavenly objects? Who was Cain fearful of killing him while living East of Eden?
No one buys that the earth is the center of the universe or even the Milky Way. There are some photographic proofs:
Even Galileo did not know at the time that the Milky Way contains about 300 billion stars, and we are miles from the center of the Milky Way. Nevertheless, he knew that the earth wasn't the center of our solar system.
Interestingly, this chart included the US as a basis for comparison.
Finally, questions are beneficial for all of us. They cause us pain/concern/lack of understanding/doubts. I am offering you, my reader, something that I learned over 70-years. What you think is accurate and true may not be. I thought that I was dumb and poor. After a while and with the help of other teachers, I realized that I wasn't. I addressed the issue. That has opened the doors to learning for me.
While many at 70 have chilled out, I won't. My pain and discomforted has pushed me to help my students in class and my readers to wake up and smell the roses. It is a wondrous world out there. Learn and enjoy it. The alternative isn't worth it. Trust me.
Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.