In the booth behind me at the ice cream parlor, an overheard conversation: a mother and her gangly-tall teenage son, his Yankees baseball cap on backwards, are talking with an English professor about college plans for the boy. There's unconscious (or deliberate?) pedantic posturing, attempts at one-upsmanship, smug pride over association with big-name institutions, serious recommendations based on social prestige ... all great fun for the cynical listener.

But nobody poses the key question to the young man: "What have you been doing lately for at least four hours every day?"

For the next several years, if his education isn't going to be a waste of his teachers' time (and his parents' money), this erstwhile scholar had better start paying attention—and devoting at least a quarter of his waking hours—to something he really enjoys. Has he been practicing a musical instrument? Reading great novels? Shooting baskets? Worrying about the nature of reality? Poring over back issues of Scientific American? Hiking through the woods? Praying? Taking care of small animals? Watching television and playing video games? All could lead to worthwhile lifelong careers.

Well, OK, maybe not that last one!

(cf. SelfReliance (16 Jun 1999), PretenseAndLackThereof (11 Oct 1999), TenThousandHours (20 Sep 2001), HardestPossible (2 Mar 2003), FirstYearWorstYear (25 Jun 2004), ...)

TopicLife - TopicEducation - TopicLearning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2005-08-06

(correlates: NorvigLaws, JonathanSturm, DisAvowal, ...)