Okay: What I Learned in School Really Does Help Me in the Real World

So I don’t mean my hidden superpower for answering Jeopardy questions or using my ‘math for non-math majors’ Jan-Term class to balance my check book.    I’m talking about my ability to buckle down at the very last possible minute and write a paper or report.   I talking about my finely honed skill for reading all night long and sleeping through my alarm.  Back then, I’d miss my 8:00 AM Russian History class with Dr. Arlin Migliazzo; today I miss a conference call with Tel-Aviv.   Truth be told,  I really wish I wasn’t talking about my stealth skills at self-justification for doing all kinds of things except the homework due tomorrow morning.  Like this blog post.

Professor Emeritus, Whitworth University

Dr. Fenton Duvall

Many professors and students contributed to my ‘this-is-useful-after-graduation’ education. English Professor Bill Woolum practically beat me about the ears before I listened to his advice:  Write your paper.  Then take the last paragraph, write it at the top of a clean piece of paper and write your paper again.    Ugh.  But he was totally right.  He also taught me to read poetry and to not take myself too seriously.   I won’t mention the temporary reality disruption he caused by assigning the films Ghandi and The Deer Hunter in the same day.   That was a lesson, too.

My history professor, Dr. Fenton Duvall  also taught me to think through the different contributors to historical events.   Most of the time I forget and think in one dimension which gets me in trouble when I’m putting together a budget proposal and forget to factor in all the different agendas for everyone in the room– most of which have nothing to do with the actual business we’re trying to figure out.   But that’s another blog post.

Dr. Sanford (no relation) taught me the value of showing up.

Linda Gillingham, Susan-Louise, Dave V., Bill Davie, Jeff Sloan, Jay Schrader, Lani Brown … all taught me how to step out of myself and to learn about people and how I want to engage with the world.

These past three weeks have felt like finals week here at work.   Bleary-eyed team members are getting in rooms with big cups of coffee, worn-out notebooks, and big ideas as we strategize our two-year strategic plan.    We’re all working outside of ‘class time’ on our homework for this big group project.  Some of us have resorted to eating crappy food and others to not sleeping; some to tea and muffins, others to a bottle of beer beside their computers as everyone else leaves the stacks, er, office,  for the night. But it’s coming together and there is nothing like the joy of pulling off a team project with high-fives, chest-bumps and a walk to Elmer’s for pizza and beer in our near future.

This is what I really learned in school:  camaraderie, cooperation, problem-solving, shared leadership and teamwork.


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