It’s that most wonderful time of the year for many parents (and some children) because school has begun. For me, September always felt more like the New Year than January 1. We had a new teacher, new textbooks, and our new back-to-school outfits. Anticipation and excitement was in the air. This got me thinking about what I learned that has actually been useful to me during my life besides the obvious reading, writing, and very basic arithmetic skills.
- In junior high, we all learned to type. Those were the days before computers, so we learned on typewriters. I don’t believe any of you typed any papers on anything but a computer, so you cannot understand the challenges of a typewriter. When you made a mistake, there was not the luxury of hitting a backspace key to make your error magically disappear. No siree! There were two methods of correcting a mistake: you either painted over the error with a nail polish-like substance called white out, which needed to be dried before you could repair the oopsy daisy, or you used correction tape, which you placed over the boo-boo and retyped the correct letter in its place. It never looked as nice and sometimes you just ended up retyping the entire page.
- My five years of French came in quite handy when we needed to provide the cab driver at Charles DeGalle Airport with the name of our hotel as well as order a meal at one restaurant which did not have an English-speaking server. Of course, Dad will mention that I got smoked salmon instead of cooked salmon, which he loves to bring up in conversation whenever possible. (Okay, I admit that “salmon fume” is sort of obvious and I should have known better.)
- Geometry has helped me determine how much paint to purchase or how many square yards of carpet to order, and basic algebra comes in handy whenever we make couscous. (Take a look at the box. If you want to make 2 servings, an understanding of Algebra 1 is needed.) I have never ever used a spec of the three years of calculus I took in high school and college!
- Home Economics in seventh and eighth grade provided me with the skills to hem a pair of pants and sew a button as well as taught me the difference between a dry measuring cup and a liquid one. (I admit that in a pinch, I will use whichever is handy.)
- Driver’s Ed class, with my cousin Louis’ husband Frank barking out directions beside me, taught me how to maneuver my way up Main Street Boonton without scratching a parked car, how to parallel park, and how to do a proper k-turn, which we did at the bottom of my cousin Nancy’s very steep driveway.
- Ninth grade world history class came in very handy last week when Aunt Ar told me she had just climbed Mt. Vesuvius overlooking the ancient city of Pompeii. Because of that class, I was familiar with the story of the eruption of the volcano that buried the city in mounds of ashes and did not have to ask her what the heck she was talking about.
- Because of ninth grade biology class, I know that anyone who does not believe in evolution is off their rocker, and earth science provided me with basic knowledge of weather and earthquakes. I learned about isobars from helping one of you with your homework, which helped me understand the weather reports in Chapel Hill, where their meteorologists were into peppering their reports with discussions of isobars. Back then, unfortunately, we did not learn of the dangers of pollution and fossil fuels, which is probably why certain people in charge of our lives are failing us because they have not kept up with the science.
And as Bugs Bunny would say, “That’s all folks!” What did you learn in school that has helped you maneuver your way through your lives?