Here I thought I would only be posting once a week, but unfortunately, life happened, and I am struck dumb by things that I heard today.
As a culture, we value the intelligent, and yet we are loathe to put forth the effort that is needed to cultivate that intelligence. Learning a language, whether modern or ancient, is too time consuming. Watching a historical documentary is, sadly, only for the eccentric. The minute we clutch a degree to our breast, book knowledge is dead. We are no longer interested in pursuing our education, in bettering ourselves.
Simply astounding that a culture who desires to be the best in the world puts so little emphasis on education or, especially, continued learning. Compare our teachers' salaries to that of Japan where if you are a teacher, or sensei, you occupy a most important position in society, For you have the youth of the culture in your hands, and you are treated as such. Unfortunately, here, once you are finished with schooling, you are finished learning. During lunch, I make the habit of bringing a book to read. For the ten minutes that I am allotted, my world slips away into the written word. Three years ago I decided to teach myself Italian. Not a language offered in the standard U.S. classroom, it is a language that I feel passionate about, and one that I feel will help me as I travel multiple times through Italy, whether visiting il Colloseo, or pouring over works by Botticelli in the Uffizi. Yet, when asked what I am reading or studying, the fact that I am studying Italian causes a plethora of responses from my fellow workers.
"Are you taking a class?"
"Are you going to Italy?"
It's uncanny, but I swear I can hear crickets when I answer "no" to both questions. People are stumped. A few will ask, "Why not Spanish? It's more useful." True, but if it's something that I do not feel passionate about, I slog through it, not learning anything. Therefore I shall stick with my passion, and encourage others to stick with theirs.
Eventually I plan on studying Latin, something I was not fortunate to be able to take in school. "It's a dead language," I hear over and over. I wonder how these same people would react if I told them I started teaching myself Linear B today. An ancient Mycenaen script, I felt it would be useful to know. Why? Because I am driven to know more. Because I wish to visit Greece someday and wish to be the reader of the tablets, not to have them read to me. So, perhaps Linear B is not your passion, but perhaps you have always wanted to learn about Mongolian eating habits. Go learn, and learn now. Not everything you wish to learn has to be useful. Not everything you wish to learn has to be that of the majority. Above all, don't stop learning, and reach high. For me, I have chosen Linear B, and that seems as good as any of a place to start.