Talkin' Bout My Education

Looking back at my education, I wasn't a great student.  I made decent grades and went to a good university and grad school, but school was never my thing.  Looking back, I can pin-point a couple of points at which I lost faith.

It was sixth grade and I was in a math class with Mrs. Paine (it's true - Paine).  The subject was least common denominators.  I didn't get it.  My worksheets came back with red marks, but I didn't really understand what I was supposed to be doing.  The class moved on while I was caught up in trying to memorize the details. Instead, what I needed was an understanding of the reasoning - not how, but why. It was at this point that I fell behind and began to dread math, as I do today.

Another example was college and grad school - I went to business school and took a few accounting classes.  Again, the light bulb just didn't go on. I passed, but not because I fully understood the reasoning of Accounting as I do now.  I remember the first day of my first accounting class.  The instructor went directly into T accounts, debits and credits, revenue and expenses.  I felt blind-sided.  My first reaction was to try to memorize all the debits vs. credits instead of looking at it from a broad perspective of how money flows. I had no context to build an understanding.

Looking back, context is what I have always missed in education.  If someone could put a new idea in the context of the real world or show me how it enables other things, I would get it.  It's just my learning style - I need the big picture before the details make any sense.  By diving directly into T accounts and least common denominators, I got caught up in trying to memorize instead of understand.  What I needed to know was why - why this works the way it does - and why it matters to me.

So, I think the connection to our style of videos is obvious.  They are based on all the things that don't work for me in education. When I see explanations on the Web, the remind me of school - they assume too much.  They sometimes dive directly into how something works and spend little time on context. 

For me, it's a big problem - a problem that I believe others feel too.  When it comes time for me to try to explain something,  it just feels right to look at the world from the perspective that would have made sense to me that first day of accounting class - build meaning with context first, then explore details.