Get Smart: How to Add to an Incomplete Education

Wednesday, 22 August 2012 16:09 Written by  Savvy Girl

Get Smart

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." - Albert Einstein

When I was struggling mightily through an astronomy class in college to fulfill the ONE science requirement I had to complete my degree, my extremely kindly professor suggested that my inability to retain or interpret anything related to science or math didn't necessarily mean that I was stoopid.  "Intelligence," he said, "is the ability to drop in at a cocktail party and feel comfortable talking to anyone in the room about anything."  That's it.

He encouraged my ideas and imagination and suggested that nurturing one's "incomplete education" is an ongoing process to maintain the ability to swill champagne with the best of them and still feel good about oneself.  Maybe he was just being nice, but it actually worked.  I didn't memorize a bunch of dates, didn't sit around making flash cards, and never got better at science and math.  I just learned that with a little effort to stay interested in what's going on in the world I could transform my attitude about  intimidating public situations, i.e., "I'm not smart enough to keep up with them," in time, turned to, "I'm not as knowledgeable as them about X, but I can contribute meaningfully to the discussion."

Savvy Ways to Add to an Incomplete Education

  • Check in regularly with TED, an organization that brings you compelling talks on everything from global issues to entertainment to science.  You can get their free iPhone App here.
  • National Geographic has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888.  They've got all the current headlines about the environment and painfully gorgeous photos here.
  • Big Think has riveting editorial on everything from pop culture to love, sex & happiness to medicine and politics.
  • Download a copy of the witty tome An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't for your Kindle or nook and brush up on topical issues during doctor's office waits.
  • The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit website providing video instruction so anyone, anywhere can get an education while learning at his/her own pace. Videos on Math, Science and the Humanities on topics from Algebra to Venture Capital illustrate step-by-step instructions, bringing the classroom to you.