Dropping Spanish 1010

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Maxine forgetfullness

Image by l.wilcoxen via Flickr

Years ago, I worked at the University of Tennessee. Like many companies, UT offered some self-improvement courses to its employees. One of the courses that I participated in was a course designed to help you improve your memory. It was a two-day course, held on two consecutive Monday afternoons.

I attended the first class with enthusiasm and really enjoyed learning new techniques to try to remember lists of things.

A week goes by. The following Monday afternoon, I leave my office and go to the main office where most of my colleagues were. They were surprised to see me - they knew that I should have been in my memory class (and about half-way through) at that time. Obviously, I had forgotten to go to the second day of the course - ironic, huh?

Missing that class is one of my favorite memories of my time at UT - which means I'm probably not remembering it correctly :-D.

Now, about 20 years later, my inability to remember things has come back to haunt me. Most of the courses that I have taken in my quest to get my associates degree at Walters State have relied primarily on comprehending and remembering logic, with a small amount of memorization to accompany it. Then came Spanish 1010.

Spanish 1010 turned that model on its head - it required a lot of memorization with a small amount of logic. Six weeks into the semester, I realized that it was just too much for me. I tried all kinds of techniques - writing the words multiple times, reviewing the vocabulary daily (which was growing at a rate of about 1 page, two columns, a week), and listening to recordings of the lectures over and over. It just was not enough. My forty year old brain just did not want to retain the information.

Having done reasonably well with my return to college after nearly twenty-year absence, I did not want to have this course (which was not required for any reason) drag me down, so I decided to drop it. The decision to drop the class has given me a great sense of relief - I was spending a lot of time for that class and felt like I was trying to dig myself out of a hole. I also am disappointed in myself for not being able to make it work.

So how have I managed to survive for the last twenty years without being able to remember things very well? Simple - I stopped relying on my brain for such simple tasks long ago. If there is something I really want to remember, I write it down and put it some place where I'll be able to find it later. I've done software development for many of those twenty years and have had to "remember" a multitude of programming languages; I don't try to remember all of the details, I just remember the logic and use reference books, the internet or my own personal "cookbook" of samples to remember the details.

While I did not learn what I expected to learn in Spanish 1010, I did learn something about myself - and isn't that what college is really all about?

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