I titled this blog Perennial Student because I have always loved reading, studying, and learning. I was perhaps happiest as a full-time student, because I was doing something I did well, my goals were clear, and there was fairly prompt feedback in terms of grades and teacher comments (which in my case were generally quite positive). At one time I thought it would be wonderful to be a “perennial student,” if getting a job to earn a living were not a necessity.

In college and grad school, however, I came to tire of study for its own sake, at least if I did not have the opportunity to make practical use of what I was studying. I wanted to do something to make a difference for the world, or at least for a few people. Teaching seemed like the obvious route, where I could continue studying, pass on my learning and my love of learning to my students, and be a positive role model for them.

Unfortunately I quickly discovered that I knew how to learn better than I knew how to convey a love of learning. I could teach the material when students paid attention, but I had a great deal of trouble getting them (mostly 8th and 9th graders) to stop talking and pay attention. Having been a straight-A student all my life, that was my first experience of complete and utter failure.

Today I am moderately happily employed in the IT department of a large corporation, where my responsibility is in the area of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. I am married and have two sons, aged 8 and 15. All of us love to read, though the males in the family also have a fascination for Playstation2 games that I do not share. So in our free time, they gather around the PS2 downstairs and I read. Or blog.

But I also keep busy with work that does, I hope, make a difference in some lives. I am a small group leader in our church’s K/1 class, a committee member of my younger son’s Cub Scout pack, and of course a wife and mother which involves the usual shopping, cooking, washing, encouraging, finding lost items, helping with homework, trying to answer difficult questions, and generally trying to be a loving person and good role model.

I am a Christian, and since June 27, 1976, my studying, thinking, and just about every other aspect of my life has been shaped to some extent by my (unfortunately sometimes faltering) attempts to grow in faith and knowledge and obedience to God. My church background is fairly varied, but most of my adult life the primary traditions that have shaped me have been Baptist and Presbyterian. I am by nature fairly skeptical, so I would have trouble saying: This I am certain of. But as many times as I have examined and questioned the beliefs I have been taught, I have each time affirmed my commitment to the basic principles of the Christian faith.

Every few years I try to write an updated personal statement of faith – not because what I believe has changed, but because I want to be certain I can express it in terms that flow out of who I am today, not a static document from some prior period in my life. Besides, I like writing, and I enjoy the challenge of writing it. See Credo for the current work-in-process.

6 Responses to About

  1. modestypress says:

    As a student in high school and college, I was erratic. If something interested me, I might do well, but if not, I did not work well.

    I became very cynical about grades and credits. They sometimes serve useful purposes, but much of the time they struck me as a debased parody of an economic system and a perverted confusion of means and ends.

    I became a public school teacher because I dropped out of graduate school and didn’t have any better ideas. As I was not very grown up, I was not a good model for or manager of children. Besides problems caused by my immaturity, public school struck me as a very confused institution, riven by unclear goals and conflicting agendas, mixing babysitting, education, prison, and job training (just for starters). It also left me with a life-long prejudice against adolescents, who probably should be put to work in farm fields and should have to “cut work” to sneak to school, instead of “cutting school” to get to work.

    After working at various unhappy jobs in both the private and public sectors, I got back into education, though now working mostly in adult education and mostly dealing with computers. The work I do involves no credits and no grades. Under those conditions, most of the people who come to class are there because they want to learn. I regard my job as a servant who tries to assist them achieve their goals.

    Although I had a teaching certificate and a Masters in Education, I consider them more or less useless. I gradually invented my own approach to education, mostly by observing students carefully and making mistakes, admitting I had made a mistake (after initially resisting that admission) and learning from the mistakes. My overactive sense of humor sometimes helps (by relieving tension) and sometimes gets in the way (by self-indulging) because mileage varies in most areas of life.

  2. Oldd Salt says:

    Perennial students face a daunting danger, for studentry (have I made a word?) in and of itself is a kind of perpetual motion – spinning constantly but getting nowhere.

    “Not so!” one might protest. hisher ego injured by the critical observation when, in fact the evaluation ought to be welcomed as a bedrock feature of the life style.

    Solitary advance of knowledge is like Tolkien’s dragon, Smaug, who, as the species are wont to do, hoard riches, count and recount them, but put them to no use other that gratifying the lizard – and making to want more for the counting and the gratification.

    A bucket can be filled only as far as the rim, at which time spillage starts and abundance becomes waste. The only way waste may be avoided is (1) fill many buckets or (2) stop the process. The gifted may have access to multiple containers; most of us run out after a second or a third experience wasting water.

    Some perennial students are the drones which wait in the hive for something to happen; and some are tireless workers: gatherers of knowledge as if it were the last summer of life and endless fields of flowers beckon apis melifica lin. The drones may discover that the wait is in vain – that brief moments slip by and death ultimately appears to collect them, without gainsay or record of having been.

    The workers will turn their efforts to support the next summer which they will not bee here to see.

    There is a lesson in it all. It has three parts: work, work very hard, and work for tomorrow.

    First: Energy is kinetic; it needs to be employed for some broader purpose. Its ‘potential’ cousin becomes active at a moment’s notice and sullenly dislikes waiting the call to action.

    Second, If you possess a vast store of knowledge, SHARE it with others and enjoy their efforts to widen what you delved long and hard to establish. In that relationship, some small part of eternity is touched upon – and the fortunate few are remembered. Recall, though, that not all the names are called for others to heard.

    Finally, do not waste time seeking that very last peel on the onion. There are others to be peeled, and your success with them will include tears. You may well learn about the penultimate peel of the one from its neighbor in the box.

    In your strivings remember that every snowflake and each fingerprint are unique. There are no two identical sunsets and each season has its own rite of passage. God (whatever you believe it to be) is at work in endeavors we occasionally are allowed to perceive, and will continue to grant us a hint of the unfolding scheme every once in a while.

    A perennial seeker of knowledge finds the wind over its wings – but only after leaving the cocoon.

    Go! Fly!!

    Old Salt

  3. Pauline says:

    Old Salt,
    I don’t know how much of my blog you have read, but when I call myself a “perennial student” I don’t mean that my occupation is being a student. At one time I thought that would be the ideal lifestyle if I could afford it (though I would call that “perpetual student” rather than “perennial student”), but before I finished my first Masters degree I got tired of it and was eager to actually start doing some useful work.

    I am a student in the sense that I try to keep learning. I read books, magazines, and blogs; I look up information about things that interest me or that I don’t understand; I participate in conversations (in person or online) to try to understand things better or to inform others of what I have learned.

    A large part of what I do on this blog is sharing what I have learned, as you refer to in your second point. And as you allude to in your third point, my life is much too busy (a family – including a son with mild autism, a full-time job, and volunteer work at church and Cub Scouts) to get even close to the last peel on the onion. I probably spend most of my time on the few outer layers, with occasional forays deeper in when time permits or my extreme interest in a particular topic compels me.

  4. Oldd Salt says:

    Very well said – and I thank you for taking time to say it. You certainly are better educated than I! 33 years in the Navy availed me one chance to go to post gradate school – and my academic record (math skills) was not good enough to gain admission.

    You are correct: I got the audience and the context wrong. Thanks for your comeback: I became the learner and the lesson was a good one.

  5. Rachel says:

    Hi – I love the quote under your title – how true that is – especially when altered by the Word of God on a daily basis – after spending almost 9 years in that regular quiet time I think so differently in just about every level – hard to believe I’m the same person – then perhaps that’s part of the idea of a new creation??

    Look forward to reading your blog posts!


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