Sunday, April 22, 2007

James Burke Made Me Not Stupid





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I'll wait while you make the obvious jokes. I'm not stupid, you know.

Good, now that you're done, we can move on. Academically, at least prior to coming to Loyalist, I was a solid C student. Though I would love to blame this on teachers, well, certain ones anyway (J'accuse Miss Purvis!), I think the problem more in the way I learn. I'm not sure that I have a learning disability (I'm not going to wait for you to make the jokes, I'm just moving right along. Try to keep up.), but I have learned that I take in information and process it in certain ways more successfully than other ways. I know this NOW, but I wish I had known it THEN. The problem for my academic success during elementary and high school would have been systemic, not because the system was out to get me (I realize that NOW), but because the system then, and likely even now, was incapable of accommodating different learning styles. And so, because I couldn't learn in the ways that I was taught, I felt stupid. I was capable of learning, everyone agreed (You should see the comments on my report cards. I kind of feel sorry for those poor frustrated teachers, even Miss Purvis), but they weren't able to teach me. Without any assessment of how I learned, no one could know HOW to teach me. I'm sure this is the experience of others too.

The reason I say "James Burke Made Me Not Stupid" is because, 1: I thought for years I was a C student because I was stupid; and 2: James Burke, through his 1979 historical documentary series Connections, was able to teach me, and, hence, make me not feel stupid; 3: I'm not a C student any more.

The other reason this post is apropos, for me at least, is because I've just been re-watching James Burke's 1985 series The Day the Universe Changed. Back then, James helped me learn that I COULD learn, I still had to figure out HOW to learn, but I knew I COULD learn. In re-watching these episodes it has made me realize how far I've come.

God bless James Burke.
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