Below is a list of academic fields of study. For as many of these disciplines as possible, share a memory. It could be something that happened in class, an Aha! moment, something about the teacher or something that was helpful later in life.
The high point of my study of English was when I got the following comment on a paper on a college paper:
“In a paper on Shakespeare’s imagery, you have avoided discussing, or even mentioning, a single one of Shakespeare’s images.”
Growing up in New Jersey with roots in New England, history was all about the Revolutionary War. I lived on the route that Washington’s army took after the victories at Trenton and Princeton. The army camped at Jockey Hollow and he had a headquarters in Morristown, abut 10 miles away. Until I was four, I lived in an old house which some said had been an inn where Washington danced. But then, he was rumored to have slept in just about every structure in that area that looked old.
My wife is one of the vast army of amateur historians that document local events. Among the lessons I’ve learned from her research is that, in some areas, including the part of Connecticut where I live, the Revolution was a civil war, with many families being split between Tory and Patriot.
3. Foreign Language (French, Spanish, Latin…)
I was in Latin class when Alan Shepard became the first American in space (except maybe for X-15 pilots) on a sub-orbital flight lasting about 15 minutes. Audio reports were piped over the school PA system. One of the girls whimpered “I hope he’s OK” which struck me at the time as a useless waste of words.
I never studied psychology in school. What I know, I learned post-marital.
I was a math major, so you would think I’d have a bunch of stories to choose from, but I found this to be the most difficult subject to find an answer for. Here are a couple of examples of how math has affected the way I think in everyday life:
a) On our last trip to California, we took our granddaughters to the La Brea Tar Pits. When I bought tickets for the museum, I told the ticket seller that there were two children aged 5 and 2 1/2 (children 2 and under are free). I was surprised that she only sold me one children’s ticket because 2 1/2 is greater than 2.
b) I have trouble understanding why people get all hyped up about round number ages and anniversaries (25th, 50th, etc.) because I’m aware that they are only round in base 10. If we used octal numbers (base 8), as some computers do, those anniversaries would be 31 and 62. Worse, they would be 19 and 32 in hexadecimal.
A ballistic pendulum is just a suspended weight. If you strike the weight, you can measure the energy of the strike by how much the weight moves. Like this:
In my college physics lab, they gave every group a single shot .22 cal rifle and a single .22 short, with which to shoot the weight (a large block of wood). They didn’t even ask if you’d ever shot a gun before. (I had.) It’s not hard to hit a target about a foot square from a distance of maybe 12 feet, but a miss is not inconceivable. At the time, I thought it was just another of a long line of examples of how the college treated us as adults, but I bet they don’t hand out weaponry any more.
I had a number of great experiences in chemistry. Once I had a nice reaction going in an apparatus with a vertical tube on top (reflux condenser – see above). I swirled the flask, which accelerated the reaction, and chemicals shot up the tube and hit the ceiling.
I remember these words from the explanation of flower sex: “Bells flash, lights ring, Zygote!”
Not my strong point. I was quite likely the slowest runner of the boys in my HS class.
Bonus: Did you have sex education class in school? What grade or age did you have this class? Thinking back on the sex education class what was the most surprising thing you learned? Was this class helpful to you in your sex life?
Back in the day, there was no sex education in the modern sense. However, in eighth grade, we were divided by gender for a class in “health.” In the boys’ room, it was a pretty dull class of which I only remember being introduced to the word “urine” as the proper name of something called by many euphemisms. I learned (or inferred) later that the girls were being taught about menstrual periods. Not that they would tell us. Having an older sister, you would think that I’d know.
Besides, males have to know about menstruation, eventually.