Thursday, May 17, 2007

And All This Time, I Thought I Loved the Learning...

I'm temping this summer, if you haven't yet gathered as much from my "Temp Poetry." At first I thought I was going to hate the job, because it started out being the usual kind of temp things: sorting, stapling, filing, etc.

But then it got better. The jist of the story, without giving any secrets away about my place of employment, is that the management has figured out I'm clever and has started giving me more complicated and engaging work to do. Thus my brain is kept active and I am quite happy.

And yet... I'm not happy necessarily because I have started to get interesting jobs. I'm happy because when I get done with these interesting jobs, I can sit in my cube and read (until someone has another job for me).

So I was in the middle of one of these jobs today, practically dancing around a conference table as I worked to organize a bunch of something-somethings into a cohesive blah-blah to present to my supervisor, and -- if one can remember an emotion the way one remembers a scent, or a piece of music -- I suddenly remembered what it was to have this feeling.

It was to be in elementary school, and to sit in class puzzling out the quickest way to do long division so that I could get back to the copy of The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles that I had sitting in-between the safety scissors and pencil shavings of my desk.

(Brief aside: I hated the order to "show your work" because it took so long to write out what my brain had already solved; I'm guessing I'm not the only one among us who shared this sentiment. I used to be able to multiply and divide three- and four-digit numbers in my head, although that skill went away when I entered high school and everyone had to buy that damn TI-85 calculator. As the calculator worked faster than my brain... away went my magical ability -- which I truly regret, as even adding three- and four-digit numbers now requires me to use a pen and paper. I think the calculator was the worst thing ever to happen to my mathematics education.)

Anyway. And because I was quick and efficient and accurate, the teachers all said "oh, she's so interested in math/science/social studies," etc. etc. etc. and all those years, I believed them.

But I realized today that I was only in it for the books.



Daniel said...

you know, I used to be able to do all that arithmetic too...

But, I think my skills went away, not with my TI-82, 83, 86, or 89 (Yes, I had all four of them), but rather when I started learning 'advanced' math. Calculus was the start, but I think I lost my arithmetic ability when I started taking graduate level math classes. It's, I need a calculator for even the simplest stuff! I hate it!

Blue said...

I know. We increase efficiency by reducing the efficiency of our own minds.

That was very profound. ^__^