Wasting My Own Time

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!


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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