Bulletin Board, excerpt


Lead stories from (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, April 22, 2004

Back to: Grab Bag

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RECEIVED IN MEMORY: Pssst! What do you learn in 'Business Administration'?

More school memories:

(1) Old Grand Dad: "The upcoming graduating class of 1939 was assembled in the auditorium of an East Side high school to hear 'recruiters' for various extended educational institutions shortly before graduation time.

"One was introduced as representing a school heavy on Business Administration. As that was a subject unknown to me at that time, I nudged an honor roll classmate next to me and asked what 'business administration' was all about.

"Without hesitation, he quietly said: 'You learn how to lie, steal and cheat!'

"When reading the news these days, it seems that quite a few of today's top executives were top-of-the-class students who learned their lessons well  or were they 'dropouts' who didn't learn enough to keep from being caught?"

(2) Poet X of PDX: "Remembering what cytoplasts are is good for 'Jeopardy!' (an episode last week; I got the answer, and none of the contestants on my television set did). And knowing Gertrude is Hamlet's mother is great for Trivial Pursuit.

"What do I remember from school? Almost all of it. But other than some math and basic language skills, little of what was learned in high school and college has much daily application.

"It's something I've pondered often: the relationship between schooling and adult vocation. I'm not downplaying seemingly less practical subjects at all; astronomy and literature, for example, easily become avocations rich enough to fill a lifetime of discovery.

"I've realized that everything valuable to the working world was learned by doing that puzzle in the paper where you find how many things are different in two drawings. Knowing what's wrong or different in a given situation is basic to most work situations that I've experienced over many years and places, from cooking in restaurants to clerical situations to cleaning parking lots.

"Learn to do that puzzle, and you're immensely more employable, I've sadly come to realize, than someone who knows the difference between a regular verb and an irregular verb, or what country is home of the Po River. It won't stop me from knowing more about Arthur Rimbaud than most high school English instructors (or French instructors, for that matter).

"What do I remember from school? I remember the time a teacher phoned home and told my parents I'd asked an especially provocative question in class that day. A science teacher, no less. (My usual class to play the A student was English, of course!) To this day, I have no idea what I'd asked that day. But I remember: A teacher went out of the way to acknowledge me.

"I hadn't thought of that in a long time. What a nice memory. Thanks for making me think of it."

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