Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Content to be a Slacker


I’m taking a break from gloom and doom to announce that I have finally learned how to do something I thought impossible: go to class and just ignore the homework. After all these years of Type-A behavior and over achieving, I have proven that I can be a complete slacker and still fool the teacher.

Last fall when my friend Reya introduced me to Miriam and told me about her level 2 Hebrew class at Temple Micah, my first reaction was: NO! I don’t need another activity in my over-burdened life, and I would never have time to prepare for class – to do the homework.

But out of curiosity I decided to go to just one class. I’m not all that proficient in Hebrew, but even though the class was already on Chapter 4, I knew enough of the stuff they were doing to fake it actually quite well.

You see I have a head for languages. During my lifetime, I have studied Latin, French, Spanish, German, Norwegian, and a little Hebrew. With all of them, you come to understand how the grammar works and some of the constructs of the language and then it starts to make sense.

Hebrew is actually not a difficult language. It’s based on a system of roots. Many words will then be derived from the same root. It’s sort of like word families, where they are all somewhat related.

After the first class when I hadn’t managed to embarrass myself too much, I talked to Miriam and said I might come again, but that I didn’t have time to do homework. She quickly said, "That’s OK. Just come to class."

And so I have been going most every week since November. I really look forward to Tuesday night now. We first have the equivalent of an "assembly" with the Hebrew 1 class taught by the Rabbi. It’s always a vigorous fast-paced (if you know Toby, you know what I mean) lecture that gets us ready for our smaller classes.

We have around 12 people in our Hebrew 2 class. They are not always the same faces from one week to the next. Class opens with a little ritual of saying the Hebrew prayer for studying the Torah and then singing (yes I said singing) the Aleph Bet (Hebrew alphabet) – remember the ABC song? Then we read and translate some sections of the current week’s Torah portion (something in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). We then work on reading and translating some part of the Shabbat morning service. Finally we look at the textbook, which tries to make sense of the grammar.

This revelation that I can actually do NOTHING in between class and just show up guilt-free is a completely new and wonderful feeling. Studying just for the sake of learning with no thought of the grade at the end of the course is liberating.

This all makes me wonder how much more fun I could have had through years of school if I had just trusted that I was smart enough to keep up and not do all that miserable homework! It just proves it’s never too late to learn how to learn!

8 Comments:

Blogger steve said...

HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH... I got through High Scholl like that... in fact, if I was still there after 10:00 there was something dreadfully wrong. At least until the Dean pulled me in and told me that he expected me in class for the last month.. I pretended not to know what he was talking about and he told me 'Cut the crap, get to Class...
Of course, I would not have graduated if Mr. Washmon had not spotted me 1 point in Journalism...
yoU go barbara!

11:00 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

You are so lucky. I would love to be able to read Hebrew, ancient Greek and Latin. Right now, I am someone who has had the languages described to him, and have some understanding, but there is no way I can claim to be knowledgeable in them - so I always have to rely on other commentators when I want to understand words and passages. I think it would be awesome to read Seneca's letter in their original Latin.

I have no facility for language, though my daughter does and I want her to learn as many languages as possible. Currently she is completely fluent in English, Spanish and French and I would love for her to learn a few more.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I've never been one for homework... Actually, that's a lie. I don't mind homework (even today) but I've never been one for studying.

Sounds like a great place to be, learning without the guilt. I'm glad you're having fun.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I think it's great. Not that homework is necessarily bad, but your attitude is refreshing.

Here's a question - would you still be so care-free about this if you stumbled a lot in class compared to the others, who may have done the HW?

9:51 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- You a slacker? Who would have ever thought? :)

Richard -- Encourage your daughter's language skills. It's not only a help when you travel, but learning languages is fun.

Kristin -- I was way too conscientious as a student. My 10th grade English teacher tried to tell me this, but I was not ready to understand it.

David -- I am greatly affected by peer pressure. So if everyone was studying their asses off except me I would probably do it too. I have noticed that most of them make flash cards, and I haven't succumbed to that yet, probably because my written Hebrew skills SUCK!

10:18 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I used to work so hard when I was young and in Gr. 6-9. I condensed my notes before anyone else ever did and I practised in my room on the blackboard, teaching my stuffed animals! To teach it is to learn it. Then, for the rest of high school and university, I swayed bacj and forth from doing thwe minimum and working hard. Guess my time started branching out socially and with activities.

I have shied away from extra courses etc. since teaching was alawys challenging enough on my brain and energy, but I also have a high fear of failure. HMMM..don't know why...??

8:39 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Barb- I wasn't a slacker... my interests just lay in ..ahem.. a different direction... I was quite good at what I did and went about it with an attitude that was ... quite zealous!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- You sound like my Mother, who could have done anything she set her mind to, but was not always confident she would succeed. I can't imagine you failing at anything.

Steve -- You are just too funny! I would have probably had a secret crush on you in high school.

10:02 PM  

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