Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tiny tidbits: Learn Nothing Day, Part Trois

Tara commented on my previous post that she doesn't participate in Learn Nothing Day because she doesn't like failure. It made me chuckle, and then it got me wondering: Why do I participate? Why do I, in fact, look forward to this day with moderately gleeful anticipation?

Part of the answer probably stems from its being a rare opportunity for my psyche to experience failure without trauma. But more than that, I enjoy the way it attunes my brain to the learning I do just via my regular activities: tiny tidbits of learning that happen so naturally and so without fanfare, most days I am oblivious to them. I think (and the point of Learn Nothing Day is) that these tidbits are unavoidable. They happen to everyone no matter where they are or what they are doing—even kids in school!

What cannot be predicted is what those tidbits will be. Oh, schools try to control this, with their curricula and textbooks and lectures, but they can't really. Even the learners can't control learning. In many respects, our brains are the sponges they are so often compared to, and like real sponges, they will soak up pretty much anything.

In chemistry class, I learned how to disguise my papers so that I could write notes to Linda instead of taking notes on Mr. Smith's lectures. I also learned that this one nerdy kid was a pretty good friend, that I enjoyed balancing chemical equations, that clocks move more slowly in 6th period, and that the chemical name for lead can be remembered by thinking of Pencil boxes.

In the last couple of days, I learned that "stop" is not a (Merriam Webster) dictionary sense of "enough" (perhaps because MW says interjections are "usually lacking grammatical connection"). I learned that some people believe "exaggerate" is an antonym for "control." NOT. I learned that there are two ferries from Anacortes to Sydney, BC, each weekday and that a 16-year-old can walk across for $13. I learned that the yurts at Kayak Point are extremely popular and run $50 per night. I learned that the Centennial Trail runs from Arlington to Snohomish, and that they are planning to extend it farther north. I learned that Microsoft HealthVault is really pretty cool, that you can upload data from your health-related devices (pedometers, blood-pressure and glucose meters, etc.) to the site, and that some pretty prestigious medical facilities are using sites like these for remote patient monitoring.

Today, I learned that Sandra put up a temporary banner on her unschooling page for Learn Nothing Day, that there is a web site where one can set up a custom marquee banner, that I still love Pachelbel's Canon, and that at least one of my friends, Alex, visits Sandra's site often enough to have discovered the new banner. I learned that Tara doesn't like to fail. I learned that Antonio Meucci got robbed.

I also learned that I didn't gain any willpower while I was sleeping, and that I still find cruising Facebook and writing blog posts WAY more fun than working. Shocker. And I learned that Learn Nothing Day provides a fun and unique opportunity for looking at learning.


Sandra Dodd said...

Best thing ever written about Learn Nothing Day, Ronnie!

Here's that page that's only up once a year. The music file I'm linking to had disappeared, so I listened to six or eight versions to choose one. It might be the same recording I had before; can't tell anymore.

This is the first year people seem to have found it. I've taken the main unschooling page down every Learn Nothing Day. :-)

Ronnie said...

Thanks! :-)

Here's that link, hot: