I’m reading Robert Fulghum’s new book, What on Earth Have I Done? I love how he helps me see things and feelings from a new perspective and with humor. In one of the later chapters he talks about how this book is his conversation with the reader and then the very next chapter is about “conversational lifeboats” – those topics he draws from to get more acquainted with someone. So, I thought I’d answer at least some of them back.
R. Fulghum: Did you ever have a great teacher – in school or out? Tell me.
me: I have had great teachers both in school and out. I really learned a lot from my high school math teacher. I had terrible math teachers until I was a junior in high school when a new math teacher, Mrs. Gardener, came to our school. Previous teachers would give tests and quizzes and only want the answer back on a single sheet of paper. It was easy to grade, but I never understood what I did wrong. I thought math was just confusing. Mrs. Gardener wanted to see how I did the work and helped me figure out that most of the time I did understand what was going on, but made a silly error like a mis-placed decimal.
Out of school, my teachers are and were my family and friends. I learned to be strong and work hard from my mom. I learned to be generous from my high school friend J. I learned that baby boys can be sweet and gentle (not scary and violent) from my nephews C and Z.
I also have people that I call anti-role models. These are people that make me say “I don’t know what I want, but I know I don’t want to be like that.” I saw several as a post-doc, those people who had no life outside the lab. They were at work for 16 hours a day 6 and 7 days a week (notice I didn’t say they worked 16 hours a day). There are also those at work now that are into office political – trying to coerce people and get their way on some issue. Finally, there are people that just use other people to get what they want – I know this type very well. I was married to one for almost 7 years before I got up the courage to leave.