There probably comes a time in everybody’s life when the realisation that they are getting older suddenly hits home. Concerns about the development of altzheimers becomes real and perusing the current information available becomes more pertinent. This happened for me in the eighties. I started to learn ballroom dancing as this satisfied all three of the criteria for the prevention of this dementia – you had to remember the steps, it gave you exercise and it had a social component. For me it didn’t satisfy learning as my ballroom dance teacher believed that the man had to lead and the woman follow – and I did just that.
In order to test the ability of my brain to retain knowledge I enrolled in a psychology degree at university. Everyone doing an arts degree at Macquarie was condemned to do at least one unit of statistics. In this I discovered a passion that I had not previously known and found it interesting that my brother, having done his pHD in physics had taken up a career in statistics. If I’d discovered earlier my love for the subject I too may have gone down that path. The psychology though was a disappointment. After two years my brain was not stretched at all. I figured that as a nurse I had a background knowledge and my life experience sufficed for other knowledge I needed. Apart from reading for references it was just too easy. I didn’t feel I was learning anything and I was flying through the exams with distinctions.
It was time to change. Challenge myself. I had always been hopeless at Maths. My mother, who had attempted to tutor me as a child, explained my mathematical non-ability as being the result of a brain which was not logical. I blamed her for putting the tables on the back of the toilet door and then testing me when I exited the small room. The only thing I gained from that exercise was constipation and not having the basic tools I needed to be a force mathematically.
I successfully altered my academic path and changed to a science degree where I initially planned on majoring in biology but finally majored in earth sciences. I continued on with statistics and I now had to do first year maths. This I worried about so I hired a maths tutor who came in the long summer break to get me up to speed. He discovered I danced and wanted to do a 1 hour tute followed by some dancing. This went on for a few weeks and I was improving but he was starting to be amorous so these lessons discontinued. I continued practising and felt fairly confident on my first day in class until the lecturer put an equation up on the board. I probably could have done it had I half an hour to work on it but other students were yelling the answers out within seconds. The equation became longer and longer and I became more and more lost. At the end of the lecture I went to admin and unenrolled. It meant that without it I would be limited in the subjects I could take but I could manage.
We did have one lecturer who taught a lesson I have never forgotten. He said ” You won’t remember any of the lectures you do at university. But if you learn anything it will be that you will know that you don’t know but you will know how to research and discover the information that you need. You will learn to research.”
It is a lesson that I learnt well and it has stood me in good stead throughout all my career changes, in my writing and blogging and particularly as I am now doing a Masters by research.
In response to the Weekly Discover Challenge