Living History -- Confessions of a Real-Life Relic
As a 56-year-old college student, I face certain challenges but none so great as my last two required classes.
Let’s talk about Psychology One, the first of the two that I am enrolled in. I signed up for this class to learn about the workings of the mind. But to my abject disappointment, it is all about psychological research and correlates and independent variables and double-blind studies. I keep reading and re-reading the textbook to see if any of it makes sense. Eventually it does, but it takes quite awhile to sink in. Not to worry, though. My children are grown, and I don’t work at an outside job. College was on my “Things to Do When I Retire” list, which is why I’m attending it now. I have an abundance of time for studying.
Last week in Psychology we saw a film on the “Bo-Bo the Doll” experiment where a bottom-heavy, life-size, blow-up “doll” was repeatedly punched by an adult in a study about the effect of violence on children. I had to correct the teacher, though.
“Bo-Bo was a clown, not a doll,” I told him.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yes,” I explained. “My little brother had a ‘Bo-Bo-the-Clown’ in his room, and he used to beat on it every day after school -- back in the day of the dinosaurs. . .”
That same day in the other required class, Sociology One, we talked about military conscription (or the “draft,” as most people know it). Now this professor is older than me, which puts us on a much more even playing field than that of the poor kid who’s teaching psychology. The Sociology professor and I engaged in a rousing exchange on the effect a draft might have on today’s young people. We talked about kids who had gotten student deferments from the draft during the Vietnam War, and I explained that, with a draft number of “2,” my then boyfriend had been one of them.
In an earlier classroom discussion my Sociology professor and I had exchanged information about the tank war in World War II and how the invention of the automatic transmission had made it possible for the allies to break the back of Goebbels’ tank army. True, I wasn’t around during the Second World War, but I was related by marriage to one of the co-inventors of automatic transmission. Again, I had something to say. But judging from the blank look on the students’ faces, I figured that they were thinking Goebbels who?
Every day in my classes I have to squelch the urge to share with my 18-year-old contemporaries my life experience with what we are studying. It’s hard to keep quiet when you have lived history.
Next week we will begin slogging our way through Adam Smith’s 1,231-page tome, Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. I doubt that I will have any new information to offer on this one, however, because even though I’m three times older than the rest of my classmates, still, 1776 was a wee bit before my time.
Tags: History , Age , College , Young People
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