Lately it seems that we might change the name of this blog from “pleasureinlearning” to “trueconfessionsinlearning.” Kristen opened the conversation with her interesting and admirable “How It Felt to Fail.” Brian picked up the thread with his remarkably honest tale, “Two Depressed People Ponder Education.”
Finally, Dr. YeVette Howard, director of our college’s quality enhancement plan on reading, offered an interesting and informative professional development session on reading in the college classroom. Dr. Howard is a well-credentialed and recognized expert on reading, but she revealed that she had great difficulty in learning to read. She also shared that when she reads for pleasure, she favors mysteries over the heavier works in the literary canon.
Reading or hearing these “confessions” from my colleagues made me like each of them even more than I already do…and these are people I like a lot. What is it about the sharing of less-than-flattering details about one another that fosters such warm feelings of comfort and goodwill? Maybe it’s that we take pleasure in knowing that we are not the only flawed people on the planet. We do indeed belong to a group: the group of people who aren’t perfect. We belong to the group of people who struggle. Sometimes we earn admission to the group of people who have persevered in spite of our imperfections.
My students in A&P seem to feel the same way. I continually nag them to improve their spelling of A&P’s daunting array of difficult words so that they “won’t look like ninnies” when they move forward in their careers. I confess that I am a poor speller who has the misfortune of being married to a bona fide spelling champion. They hear the story of my humiliation as a young student doctor on rounds, called out by the attending physician for misspelling “vesicular” as “vessicular” on a patient’s chart. I haven’t missed that one again, but I still wonder why “vesicle” has one “s” while “vessel” has two.
The advent of spell-checkers in word processing programs found me alternatively argumentative and horrified by years’ worth of clueless spelling errors. “Eliminate”? Seriously? Why not “eleminate,” like “elementary”?
So when I remind my charges yet again that “sagittal” has one “G” and two “Ts,” I also tell them that I have looked that word up at least a hundred times myself. I tell them that I almost despaired of learning to spell “hematopoiesis.” And I tell them that no one in the room, including the teacher, was born knowing any of this.
There is great pleasure in feeling that we belong to a group, especially when that group is the tribe of fallible fellow human beings. (And, yes, I had to double-check how to spell “fallible.”)