Yesterday I attended a lecture on “Happiness and the Greeks” by Dr. Christopher Bobonich. As usual to prepare for an unknown hour I gathered together a crossword puzzle, some reading matter and some blank paper. I have a low tolerance for boredom by which I mean in these cases a low density of information so I bring something else to do while I listen. I got there early, started my puzzle and continued as professor Bobonich began his lecture. I then proceeded to waste my time – my fault, not his. The material was descriptive with many parts and interesting reasoning but I wasn’t following much or noting (remembering) much. Of course. My attention was divided. I wasted my own time. I came to learn from a noted scholar and instead spent my time noodling around in my own brain. No excuses.
I think I learned from Steven Covey’s Seven Habits… that one should prepare for an endeavor by devoting ten percent of the anticipated time planning and posing questions. I didn’t do this and worse I wasn’t prepared at the beginning to start the process of learning. As penance and because I was still curious I went to the follow-up lecture today. This time I took notes which keep my head in the game – no laptop, no crossword puzzle. Yes there were some slow periods but I used them to critique the lecture method and thus I was mostly fully occupied.
I am reminded of my freshman calculus class in college. Even then I had the habit of working puzzles or reading in class when the professor digressed. I took pretty good notes back then (I still have them) but I remember a week in the spring when I blithely read Time Magazine as Professor Durst covered, I think, vector calculus. That created a hole in my mathematical knowledge that I didn’t correct until I had to teach Calculus IV. You’d think I’d learn!