A humbling experience! How I could score at the top on the GRE and yet flunk the ground school final exam--a practice for the FAA exam. You'd think that after teaching 35 years I'd know how to study. But I don't seem to.
The truth is, I never have known how to study--or, at least, I've never been much good at this kind of learning.
Then, what kind of learning am I
[Six days later.]
Okay, I'm out of the funk now--but that experience really woke me up. I knew I hadn't studied, yes, but hadn't really come to grips with it. Flunking the practice test was sort of like an alcoholic hitting bottom: you have to hit so hard that you can't deny your weakness any longer.
Okay, so I'm a --a what? The metaphor is getting strained here. A think-aholic, or something like that. I usually am able to think my way through most problems. The trouble here is, either the FAA's questions are too hard to think through in the time available, or they're so arbitrary that thinking-through is just plain impossible.
What I've figured out about myself in the past week is that almost everything I know, I just KNOW. Picked it up by osmosis or figured it out for myself. I've hardly ever learned anything by studying in any usual sense of the word.
Memorizing has always been hard for me, but until now--having to acquire and remember lots of data, many of which don't make sense to my bones--I never realized how hard it really IS. I get a fact into my mind, zoop it's gone again. If I didn't know that it's always been that way for me, I'd probably conclude I was getting dotty in my dotage.
Of course, the oddest thing is, it's selective. Some things seem almost impossible for me to remember (though I can if I really work at it). Others I remember without trying. Too bad there's not some kind of switch I could throw to turn on the rememberer whenever I needed it!
Another thing I've realized about myself is that in my own courses I'm mainly interested in what people think, rather than what they know. What they know is more or less implicit in what they think--about literature, especially--so I've found that I almost never have to bother grilling them specifically about what they know.
The FAA, on the other hand, doesn't give a hoot about what I think. They want to be sure I know the stuff.
In case you're a stranger reading all this stuff, by the way, I'm exaggerating this situation somewhat, so I can think my way through it better. (Not exaggerating the funk, though. That was real funky!) And did you notice that I'm still thinking-through? Yep. Instead of writing this, I COULD be studying the Federal Aviation Regulations that I'll have to know cold in a couple of weeks.)
I know, I know. I'm lazy--right? That's what my teachers said in elementary school--well, they called me "an underachiever," but they probably meant lazy.
What would I do with a student like me?
Aw, I wouldn't have to worry about me in
my classes--just find out what I think and everything'd be jake.
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