Lands and Peoples: Formative Years

During formative years, life events shape our destiny.  In 1952, my mother gave me seven volumes of The Grolier Society, ‘Lands and Peoples.’  Volume I is pictured above along with an additional Volume I purchased later.

These volumes plus ‘Book of Knowledge’ encyclopedias my mother also acquired as a gift to me opened the world in colored photographs and text for me to see.  I became enriched through these books, so much so that I went into history, government, and anthropology during my college coursework and teaching.

Other influences, of course, had their sway on me:  university courses at UT-Austin with Ginascol, Morgan, and Bullock; my work under Covey at Howard Payne; and Coach Warren at Brownwood High School who taught me Texas history and was the first lecturer (other than pastors and priests) I ever studied under.

As a tip of craft for college students studying history, world civilization, government, I recommend looking at these volumes (if you can find them), but I also recommend that students use the Google image resource along with the text.  Peruse the images about the period you study.  Look at the photographs and paintings depicting an event or the archeaology of the Romans or Indus Valley–any topic under study.  Use the Google feature to get an image that will enliven the person or event, much like The Grolier Society, ‘Lands and Peoples’ formed my lineament of life thereafter.


A Snapshot of Students Lost: Young and Old, but All Striving – The New York Times

As I read the biographical sketches of the men and women killed at the Oregon community college, I thought of my students through my career that were similar in aspirations and striving.  The adjunct instructor, also killed, reminded me of those men and women who teach the subjects they revere to those that strive.  Not all students make it, but the mere fact of enrolling in a class signifies a start, a possible change to make a person and the world better through knowledge and skill acquisition.

Read the article from the The New York Times linked below.

“An instructor and eight students from various walks of life and ages were remembered as an Oregon community tried to come to grips with a mass shooting.”

Source: A Snapshot of Students Lost: Young and Old, but All Striving – The New York Times

One ear in, one ear out: doesn’t cut it!

Samantha Power
National Security Council
Occidental College

You’ve got to be all in. This means leaving your technology behind occasionally and listening to a friend without half of your brain being preoccupied by its inner longing for the red light on the BlackBerry.

In many college classes, laptops depict split screens — notes from a class, and then a range of parallel stimulants: NBA playoff statistics on, a flight home on Expedia, a new flirtation on Facebook. I know how good you all are at multitasking. And I know of what I speak, because I, too, am a culprit. You have never seen a U.S. government official and new mother so dexterous in her ability simultaneously to BlackBerry and breastfeed.

But I promise you that over time this doesn’t cut it. Something or someone loses out. No more than a surgeon can operate while tweeting can you reach your potential with one ear in, one ear out. You actually have to reacquaint yourself with concentration. We all do. We should all become, as Henry James prescribed, a person “on whom nothing is lost.”

— Quote from last year’s commencement addresses:


The Secret of Studying

The secret of studying is this:  There is no secret.

The process is neither secret nor mystifying: learn the language of the field, make a lot of time to learn the language of the field, SQ3R, prove your competency in the language of the field.  Read on.

A.  The basics of studying is to learn a language field: anatomy, biology, history, law, literature, mathematics, medicine, music and zoology, among many others.  The language field of words (vocabulary, glossary) must be sufficiently assimilated to use coherently.

B.  Knowledgeable use or competent use of the field must be proved.  It prevents charlatans, posers, mountebanks, incompetents, hacks, liars, fabricators, actors and frauds from playing as if they know the field and applying the skills of the field to an unsuspecting public in order to gain money, power and prestige.  Having competency or knowledge must be verified by those that are competent.

Paragraph A defines what you are really doing when you study.

Paragraph B explains why knowledge of the field must be verified by exam.

If you do not accept Paragraph A or B, then you need to stop going to college and posing as a student.  If you accept Paragraph A and B, read on.

There is no secret to studying.  Writ short, you must spend time with the terminology so that you can write or speak the language without reference to notes or text.  There is no short cut to learning.  It is a hard process and not usually fun.  It is grim and injurious to the tasks of loafing, working, watching television, gaming, drinking and socializing.  Frankly, there is no education without tears.  Literally.  The pleasure principle lies on one side of the road, reality on the other.  You must sit yourself down in the chair at the desk or on the couch or someplace and concentrate on the language field.  That’s reality.

The non-secrets of studying:

1.  Make time to learn the language.  Set aside children, spouses, friends, work, socializing.

Set aside a lot of time to study without distractions of children, spouses, friends, work, socializing.

2.  Have texts and notes to study the language of the field.

3.  Survey the lesson.  Question the lesson.  Read the lesson.  Review the lesson.  Recite the lesson.  This is SQ3R (look it up to read more about the process).  I have applied the Baland-Rea variation to SQ3R, named after two of my students.  The Baland-Rea variation is to quickly rewrite your lecture notes after class.

4.  Go prove yourself to whomever: teacher, jury, committee.

Remember: learn the language of the field, make a lot of time to learn the language of the field, SQ3R, prove your competency in the language of the field.  The secret of studying is this:  There is no secret.

Take Notes SQ3R

In face-to-face classes, at least mine, it is important to take notes.  If I’m talking, you should be taking notes.  Learn now how to do it.  Look up some tips of craft on the web about note taking.  It’s a record of content.  Oh, and what you have in your notes will be on the test.

The method of study for any field of knowledge is SQ3R.  There is a link to it on the note taking link above.