We turn the page on a new year, resolved once again to change our lives. Laugh, perhaps at the cyclical folly of this endeavor, but you cannot deny its basic truth: we are driven to be better today than yesterday. And while some seek it through denial (diet, smoking cessation) and others through sacrifice (volunteerism), education not only serves as a portal to a transformed life, either big (a new graduate degree!) or small (I know how to hand-make pasta!), but the very act of learning is, in fact, irreversible change.
Ted C. Fishman’s seminal new book “Shock of Gray” paints the rapidly aging world in vivid colors and he points out that as we age, our cumulative knowledge is our greatest asset in life’s losing battle against eventual obsolescense. Fishman’s prescription for us all is to keep learning, “pumping yourself full of knowledge as you go along.”
And so, to the well we go. Lifelong learning is not quite so simple as, say, choosing a kindergarten or even a college. The road curves madly after a relatively steady course to adulthood. For this edition of “Life 101” we offer, then, not a blueprint for an impossible project but a series of essays, of impressions, of how education can change lives, of the insane variety of paths it might take and of how the journey of the student becomes a reflection of sorts when the student becomes a teacher. Carry on. (Brian Hieggelke)