Top 11 List Of Things I’d Like People To Learn

It’s Week 11 here (the final week of Fall term) and I just completed reviewing 11 student essays (give or take a few), and it feels like the 11th hour, so I am in an “11” kind of mood. This is good because I have 11 things for this Top 10 List Of Things I’d Like People To Learn.

[Oh, and to be clear, “People” in the title of my list do not equal “my students.” I have a separate list for what I’d like my students to learn; appropriately, that list resides in my syllabus.]

I’ve been formulating this list while walking my dog every morning because that’s (the only time) when I have the space and solitude to think. Usually I spend this time thinking through projects at work, creating my grocery or to-do lists, or mentally remodeling my kitchen (and oh my! if you could only see what I see, you’d have pot rack and island envy!). But about 11 weeks ago (of course), before the hectic nature of Fall Term was upon me, I read a similar list, and so I decided to dedicate some of my dog-walking-meditation time to the topic.

My god -- I mean, my dog -- Oscar.

I start at the top with #11, though they are in no order of priority or importance. I’d like people to learn all of them, equally. I begin with one about walking my dog because it is an ongoing challenge that Oscar and I face during our morning workouts and it directly affects our ability to get our thinking done.

11.  Please learn how to walk your dog so your dog doesn’t decide to come meet my dog (in the dark!). A leash might help with that. (Owner of the bouncy, barky labradoodle, I’m requesting this of you specifically; Oscar doesn’t like labradoodle surprises that early in the morning. We get, as you well know, kind of cranky when your barky, bouncy doodle comes bounding up to us, from behind, at full speed.)

10.  Please learn the difference between affect and effect and between imply and infer. Also, a colleague recently brought to my attention the frequent confusion about the terms irony and sarcasm (prompting him to go so far as to write an eloquent treatise on appropriate usage of said terms), so for his benefit, let me add these to the list as well.

9.  Please learn that turn signals can save lives.  Or at least make you a more likable and considerate driver. (Chip – that one is just for you. You’re welcome.)

8.  Please learn the correct and effective use of “Reply All” in an email.

7.  Please learn to use your words instead of throwing a tantrum if you don’t like something. (This one is mostly for the toddlers out there, but it applies to a few adults I know too.)

6.   Please, please, please learn to use Google Calendar to schedule a meeting with me instead of sending a minimum of 12 emails back and forth over a 2 week-period. (It’s a productivity tool, folks.)

5.  Please learn that grading, learning assessment, and measuring learning are different; they can be aligned (and should be aligned if you’re going to do them all), but they are not necessarily the same thing. Please stop conflating them.

4.  Please learn that guacamole is made with avocado as an ingredient; however, avocado is not the only ingredient.

3.  Please learn how to correctly and effectively use “CC” (and “BCC” for that matter) in an email. (Yeah, these email things get to me. I mean, it’s old technology now and we still don’t know how to use it? Really?!?)

2.  Please learn to substitute good vegetable broth for beef or chicken broth in French Onion Soup. You can do so and not lose any substance, and in many cases you can substantially enhance the flavor not to mention the nutritional value by doing so.  (Just once I’d like a restaurant to make French Onion Soup with wild mushroom broth. It’s so good when I make it at home, and on the rare occasion that I eat out at a place that serves French Onion Soup, I’d just like it as an option.)

1.  Please learn that deadlines and meeting times are most often in place for a reason. It may not be your reason, but they are there for a reason. (This may need to be a lesson in courtesy, time-management, or awareness, depending on the offender. Come to think about it, it may need to be a lesson in how to use Google Calendar!)

That concludes my list. It may very well conclude my use of Top # lists in this here blog as well because I’m just not very adept at making them (as I’ve just demonstrated). And, I may need a follow-up post in which I provide tutorials for each of these; I mean, what fun is it to arrogantly declare what other people should learn without getting to teach?

Since someone, waaay back 11 weeks ago, prompted me to consider the question, I’d love to hear it from you, too: what are the things you’d really like people to learn? (Keep it clean, people. Keep it clean.)


4 thoughts on “Top 11 List Of Things I’d Like People To Learn

  1. Re: Lesson 2
    Technically, French Onion Soup is not made with anything but beef broth. However, onion soup made with wild mushroom broth sounds so mouth-watering that I now crave a boon. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease, will you post your recipe?

    My list is something roughly as follows:

    11. Most off-ramps are followed, a little further down the freeway, by yet ANOTHER off-ramp. If you are about to miss your first choice in off-ramps, I suggest living life on the edge and proceeding to the next off-ramp to turn around and come back. My suggestion is intended as an alternative the drivers who swerve suddenly, too close to other cars, and across the gore point at the last possible moment, in order to catch their first choice in off-ramps. I suggest this alternative because my observing such behavior does cruel things to my biorhythms.

    10. Read more.

    9. Write more.

    8. Speak less (if you’re inclined to speak too much); speak up (if you’re inclined more toward auditory nonexistence).

    7. Ask instead of assuming – anything.

    6. Most tasks are part of a larger project or goal. If you love me, please please please learn to keep the larger picture in mind. If you don’t understand or see the larger picture, please please please, at the very least, do your part of the task list all the way, or leave a note about where you left off or as a hint to what the hell you were doing when you stopped. (Sorry to say it, but this one applies to coworkers.)

    5. Although it would remove one of my most effective means of navigating in the world, it would still be better if everyone would listen to himself or herself. I’m listening to you. And I know that what Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than it says about Paul. I also know that anyone who will lie to me will lie about me. I’m just sayin.

    4. It’s bad internet etiquette to post my email address visibly with everyone else’s when you send out a mass mailing. It’s bad friendship-with-Stephanie etiquette to forward “funny” things at all. Ever. No, really. Stop it.

    3. (Is this a learnable skill?) Don’t talk or whisper loudly or rustle things or do any other attention-seeking or attention-getting behavior while in a gathering of people, all of whom are supposed to be paying attention to something or Someone other than you. This includes church, movie theaters, concerts of all kinds, and lectures.

    2. Please refrain from discussing the medical, emotional, or sexual intimacies of your life in public.

    1. Don’t worry; be happy; and if you can’t be happy or less fretful and pessimistic about ordinary life, just be aware that talking to me will be largely dissatisfying for you.

    I think that about covers it. I feel better now.

  2. Note to Self:
    Do not under any circumstances ever interrupt Mel’s daily “Oscar Time.” She can get really tart!

    Little thots on What People should Learn:

    Please, thank you, and you’re welcome are still nice words and should be used frequently.

    It is still appropriate to identify yourself when using the phone. And while I am on the phone, cell phone etiquette has become an oxymoron e.g. Stephanie’s #2 above.

    If “Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten” but now we don’t live it, did we ever learn it? (Oh, crumb! Do I assess this, measure it, or grade it? darn, wish Mel was here.)

    It is a great season – enjoy it for all it is worth. Be thankful, very thankful. And, lift up those going through dark days and hard times.

  3. Great list. Also regarding #1:

    “1. Please learn that deadlines and meeting times are most often in place for a reason. It may not be your reason, but they are there for a reason.”

    I’d add the flip side to this. If you’re in a leadership position, please be willing to share your reasons for the deadlines you set, the projects you develop, etc. Obviously this does not need to carry down to minor items like why a meeting is scheduled at a certain time, but often I believe many leaders worry that explaining their logic would undermine their authority, when for me it would do exactly the opposite.

    This also carries over for student advising. When a students complain that they don’t understand the purpose of Gen Ed classes, for example, I try to share with them the reasoning behind it (and I’m often open about my own opinions as well).

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