I just returned from a long weekend in the Chicago suburbs to celebrate my cousin’s high school graduation. As I listened to the bittersweet speeches from students and faculty and watched the pride in parents’ faces as their child’s name was called, I was reminded of my feelings during my own graduation – hurry this thing up and let’s get on to the next! After twelve years of school I was eager to put the kid stuff behind me and move into the big leagues of college, work and life. In four years, I believed, knowing the capital of Bolivia or the purpose of the Electoral College or that Marco Polo founded spaghetti or even that the earth was round was going to be nothing more than useless trivia.
But now I’ve now been doing the grownup thing long enough that I feel I can aptly pay homage to the lessons I learned in those twelve years of school and how they matter more than I may have thought when doodling “Beth and Jeff 4ever” instead of learning about the types of clouds. Here are the teachings that stuck:
Literature: Long past is the time when my greatest incentive to read was to earn free pizza as part of Pizza Hut’s Book It program. Without extenstive familiarity with literary giants like Hemingway, Wilde, Fitzgerald or Shakespeare, one would not have the array of material from which to amass inspirational quotes for one’s Facebook status updates.
Health: When you aren’t feeling so hot and a friend hands you a baggie of pills and none of them look like Bam Bam, it’s important to be able to distinguish between the Advil and the Tylenol and the Vitamin C and the Loestrin 24.
Handwriting: While the need for this talent has yet to manifest beyond being a go-to for friends’ personalized wedding invitations, decades from now I’m poised to become one of the great scholars of the late twentieth century who will be able to decipher ancient texts and forgotten letters penned in the dead language of Cursive.
Science: It pays big to be a geek. You could influence the next technological advancement, cure cancer, or even be one of those guys who puts Mentos into pop bottles.
History: While you may think you can get by on Mel Gibson and Daniel Day Lewis movies alone, possessing a high level knowledge of key milestones and major players in history gives you a little extra depth and also allows you to use the phrase, “historically speaking,” which is awesome.
Math: One bottle of wine equals 750 milliliters which equals twenty-five ounces which equals five, five-ounce glasses which equals a problem if there are two of you.
Gym: Nothing prepares you for a lifetime of disappointment and frustration better than being picked last for kick ball while wearing a reversible uniform.
So while the elements of the periodic of the table and the whole metric system debacle of 1992 are mere blips in my educational memory, I’m glad I experienced the grueling years of pop quizzes, milk tickets and book reports – historically speaking.
What classroom lessons have made their way into your grown up life?