On Wednesdays, I share my thoughts on Learning and Personal Development.
On Friday night, we made the three hour drive to San Francisco to pick up a treasure -- my eldest son Eric, who just finished his sophomore year of college. Sporting a Harvard sweatshirt and a few days growth of beard, Eric had the slightly beleaguered look of someone who had just been through finals. You remember that feeling -- sleep deprived, randomly crammed tidbits of knowledge as yet unforgotten, thrilled that the tests are behind you, and anxiously awaiting the outcomes.
As a mom, for years now it's been my job to teach Eric and his brother Adam. I was the queen of flashcards and storytime and asking, "Is your homework done?"
I should have caught a clue sometime around fifth grade when my boys' Math left me in the dust that they would eventually be the ones teaching me.
It's clear to me now.
For the next two weeks, we have the treat of having Eric home with us before he heads off to New York City for an internship. He's been sharing my office, and I can lovingly look over now at the spot where he sits and see evidence of the passionate learner I raised. When I was in college, finishing finals meant going immediately to the beach. If I read anything more serious than a 17 Magazine on my breaks, it was likely a romance novel. My world was all about "me": my friends, my future, my life.
Eric is the learner I would love to be some day. When you converse with him, things naturally seem to evolve quite often to a higher level. I can also look at him and see -- perhaps only as a mother who knows her child's expressions so well -- that those momentary pauses in conversation and the way he will glance to the side as I'm talking don't mean he's not paying attention, but rather indicate active thought and formulation of his next idea.
Do you remember perhaps being a new parent and marveling at the miracle of your child's first steps? I have that sense sometimes when I'm chatting with Eric. On a bike ride, in the car, or together at the gym, our talks turn often to lofty topics. If I'm being wise, I spend more time listening than I do talking. That's where the learning happens!
Here are a few things Eric has taught me about learning:
- Have a passion for it. Let it keep you up at night ("Just one more chapter, Mom.")
- Actively seek it. Online, in podcasts, in periodicals, on the back of cereal boxes, and yes, even on Facebook.
- Celebrate it. When you reach your goal, give yourself a pat on the back.
- Share it. Knowledge is meant to be shared -- and in teaching someone else, you tend to learn even more in the process.
Today's USA Today headline about Ivy League schools offering classes online has me pondering how many amazing learning tools we have surrounding us. From podcasts to community lectures, from the local library to Youtube, our world is full of ways to grow and to learn.
Let's get going!
What have your children taught you?