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Clueless in China….

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Many years ago, as a scoutmaster in Germany, I was privileged to direct a troop of precocious preteens. They were sons of the physicians and administrators at the hospital, where I worked as a behavioral science specialist in inpatient and outpatient psychiatry, and they had an mean IQ higher than most of my current colleagues–present compsny included.

One new “Tenderfoot” once balked at introducing himself to the entire group (he was 11) and asked me, “What should I say?” I told him that anything was fine–mind you, this was in 1978–and he quickly said: “My name is Tom and I don’t believe the Alpha Centauri system can support life.” I went home to bone up on astronomy and Tom went on to law school at Georgetown, but only after joining the chorus of collective wisdom that, in perfect pitch, generally corrected me on topics ranging from conservation to zooology with unfailing accuracy.

It was, truly without a doubt, one of the best times of my life. There is nothing a real teacher enjoys more than intellectual challenge–unless it is summer vacation, but I digress…. When a student, or group of students, puts a willing teacher to the test, well, everyone benefits.

I have a long list of moments in my life where I made Mr. Bean look like Lawrence Olivier. From declaring to a class that Sherlock Holmes was a cocaine addict only to find out later that he was fictional, accidentally shooting the hero in a professional melodrama production, and once asking America’s Cup winner Dennis Conner at the Tokyo airport “Where have we met before?, I have had my share of slapstick moments. And I would not take back one of them. I stand with Churchill who said: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

This week was no exception. I met a much revered academic and a psychology dean at a small, ambitious college that rightly aspires to great scholarship. I was applying for a job, or so I thought, as a generalist psychology professor with ancillary duties in Neuropschology . In fact, they were looking for someone well primary and well versed in neuropsychology. They had hoped during the interview to extract information from me that I assume did not make the jump from short-term to long-term memory and likely fell between the synapses somewhere during graduate school–back in the days of Peter, Paul and Pterodactyls. For the first time in an academic interview I was asked to define a series of terms. I simply had to say, “I don’t know.” to a host of questions one would likely find on a Psych’ 101 final.

As in my other days of Holmes and humility, I likely will re-read the yellowing pages of my graduate textbooks and Google myself silly as penance. In the end I am still be a teacher and pretty good at articulating what I do know. Having been a lecturer at some of the world’s top conferences and schools I don’t doubt my abilities in other areas. But, I have some work to do. And I promise I won’t nearly be like Goethe, who was taken from a library in a frothing stupor after trying to absorb all the information then transcribed in books. I”ll just add to my knowledge base and will never-the-less enthusiastically fail some other time in pursuit of other successes.

Maybe they have an opening for a lecturer in Nineteeth Century British Fiction.

Asia,cartoons,China Cartoons,China Humor,Chinese Education,Macau University of Science and Technology,Teaching in China,中国

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  1. TaiTaion May 19th 2007 at 12:49 pm

    At least now we know the precocious youth was in fact wrong; it is well documented that Alpha Centauri supports a healthy population of small furry creatures.

  2. duelistcarlon May 20th 2007 at 4:42 am

    TaiTai, nice to meet u here.
    And Lonnie you are the one of greatest generalist psychology professors in our heart.
    We all like u,you really teached us a lot.

  3. panthergirlon May 21st 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Lonnie, thank you for that lovely comment on my blog! Is it The Dog’s Breakfast that they like, or Adventures in Cyberia? I’d love to know more about how I figured into their mid-term exams.

    This is very disturbing about Google. They used to have a warm place in my heart right next to Amazon, but I see that they need to be evicted.

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