Tuesday, November 15, 2011

meet Vladimir and his collection of ceramic unicorns

Yesterday I purged the office of nonessential paperwork like our 2003 taxes--evidence of our distinguished careers in telemarketing and the retail industry. I came across a couple of large maps I had gotten for free over the years via support of non-profits like Sierra Club and Doctors without Borders. I originally hung onto them thinking one day I might hang them in my kids' room and hope somehow geography knowledge would seep into their brains via osmosis.

I revived the idea of hanging them on the wall, but my hope for Vivi's education has evolved into a dialogue I want to start with her about academic subjects I was uninterested in as a kid, like geography and science. When Vivi saw the maps, she immediately laid them out on the floor and stared for a good three minutes without saying a word. The wondrous look on her face was priceless. Then began the barrage of questions about mountains and great lakes and oceans and "C level."

I am thrilled over her enthusiasm for learning. She almost doesn't care what the subject is, although she does reserve special joy for reading, writing, and music. And now geography! I wonder how much of her is actually just like her Daddy, or whether she just looks and acts so much like him that we have started attributing minor preferences as major persuasions of personality.

Whatever the reason for her zeal, I love the thought that my children are a clean state upon which I can assist in molding a love of education. Like mothers before me, I hope they will shrug off the 'girls are bad at math and science' myth that continues to lurk in the school system. I hope they won't be pigeon-holed into activities and education 'befitting their gender.' I want for them to be challenged in a way that maintains their drive to succeed academically.

Somewhere along the way my own motivation took a steep dive, and I still am not positive of the cause. Even when watching Kyle, my college boyfriend, challenge himself with pre-med courses like organic chemistry, I was still content to take classes like "Fungi: Friends or Foes?" and "The Psychology of Human Sexuality" (incidentally, a class we all signed up for because we heard the prof showed pornos on Fridays).

I want to grab and shake that girl who is so complacent and just looking for a good time and tell her what a great opportunity she's wasting. Don't get me wrong; I have great memories of college and had some wonderful professors. I will never forget the aha moment I achieved in Cognitive Anthropology. But still!

Alas, I didn't intend for this post to become a whiny diatribe of my unsuccessful undergraduate education. On a positive note, I have been enthralled with a few NPR segments in the last week; the first with an economist explaining Greece's collapse, and the second with a Harvard physicist discussing particles in the universe. I enjoyed the learning I obtained and also the fact that both interviewees were women. So you see, young ladies? The sky really is the limit.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I majored in math and English in college, and I was really bad at math but so enjoyed the challenge and the long hours and the endless, endless studying. I loved some English classes, but the math classes --- well, not the content so much, but the feeling --- are what stay with me all these years later. And yes! What fun to share all our lessons (and missed lessons) with kids.

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