Don’t Know Much About History

History Book I was inspired to get after watching Last of the Mohicans and not knowing who the bad guys were.

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?

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About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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7 Responses to Don’t Know Much About History

  1. Sara T says:

    I apply the transitive property of geometry (if a=b and b=c then a=c) to all kinds of things.

    For example, I bought myself an Oakland Raiders sweatshirt even though I live in Pittsburgh, where you are considered loony if you aren’t a diehard Steelers fan. I’m not into sports at all, but the sweatshirt was cute, so here was my rationalization: My man loves the Raiders, and I love my man, so by the transitive property of geometry, I love the Raiders, too!

    • Sara T says:

      Oh! Also French class always allowed me to point out cute boys to my friends without the boys knowing.
      “Regarde le garcon la bas. Il est tres mignon” (I’m sure something in there is conjugated wrong and missing accents, but you get the picture,,,). It only ever backfired once, when I said it about a boy who ALSO took French 🙂

  2. paywindow7 says:

    I can’t point to a specific example of a memorable class or subject that made a long term impression. (however there was a Ms. Hubac who caught the attention of my early teen male libido, not sure what she was teaching though). But what it did teach me was a very important “Life Lesson” about how to bear down and not break and run when the learning process got testy and difficult. So it was not a specific class but the whole process that was important to me.

  3. Loving your post, especially your Math statement – ha! My handwriting sucks, since I spend way more time typing lately. I get excited when I get to dust the cobwebs off and use my language skills when evesdropping on someone speaking German. I still hate multiple choice and True/False questions/tests. Remembering Gym class just makes me think Oh The Horrors! Have a Great Day:)

  4. Go Jules Go says:

    Ha! I’m so with you on the cursive and gym. And I think one of my resounding lessons came from sitting at The Geek Table. The table right next door, with the Popular Kids, is the same table of kids who are now (at 30) living in their parents’ basements. 😉

  5. kitchenmudge says:

    I learned touch typing in high school. That’s about it for anything useful.

  6. I learned that having a reputation as a good girl is essential–it lets you get away with all kinds of crap that none of the teachers would ever suspect you of. Wandering around the halls in the middle of class time? No problem! “Forgot” to hand in my paper on time? Bring it tomorrow!

    Also, that if you’re going to write lots of notes to your friends, you must do it in code. I learned that from my mom, who used to write notes in English, but using the Greek alphabet. My friends and I used a complex algorithm that consisted of mixing up the order of the letters.

    I’ve yet to meet a single spy who could break it.

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