Learning and that

This is the second time I have written the introduction to this post, because I have lost it somewhere in the computer, which rather proves my point.  I can see a draft of it, written in strange symbols but have no idea how to read it.

What I wrote (I think) when I leapt out of bed this AM, was an account of a bit of yesterday, that was wondrously frustrating.

I began by praising the abilities of the S&H as a teacher.  I believe him to have inherited this skill from his mother, it is highly unlikely to be an attribute of his father, who could not teach a cat to lick itself if it was sitting in front of him with its tongue hanging out.

The OH, when confronted with educashun, is inclined to go red in the face and shout: You think I’m an idiot, don’t you?  An utterance which agreement with does nothing to ameliorate the situation in any way, whether he is seeking to impart or absorb.

This did actually happen yesterday.  Anticipating the future, deriving knowledge from the past, as remarked upon recently by HM The Queen, I had requested instruction from the S&H in an email, he who brilliantly taught his cat not to put her paw out of his bedroom window and catch passing bats.  My plan was to break the task into two sections to facilitate learning by the ignoramus, in this case myself.  I intended to request the OH to assist with the simple part of the task and the S&H with the part I foresaw as being trickier.

I am probably the last person in the country lacking a smartphone and with no intention of acquiring one.  There are beggars on the pavement in the next town with smartphones attached to card readers but I’m still taking money at Miniatura because I understand it.  I have little truck with computers or modern technology, which I do not love with the same intensity that others embrace the joy of being able to leave pictures of your children on your phone until it falls over.  I still have rolls of film in the fridge and have actually bothered to learn how to take photographs (with a camera), get them on to the computer and thence to a printer.  Once printed I put them in an album or make them, currently, into zig-zag books that I post to SMIL, with captions in my clearest Marion Richardson teacher writing.

The new laptop has proved challenging.  It makes decisions for itself based on what it thinks I’m doing.  As this is, frequently, floundering, the results can be interesting, such as keeping a record of the previous version of this, which I forgot to save, as unintelligible symbols.  It did offer to sell me an app to buy an interpreter, with faultless logic.  If I have money enough to purchase a new laptop I must surely be wishing to give Bill Gates more chances to save the world, ASAP.

What I was wanting to do was ask the OH to assist me with cleaning some of the memory stick thingies used in setting up the new laptop so that I can use one to record a new version of something I am writing, whilst keeping the old version on another stick, in case the amendments turn out in similar vein to the choice of paint colour for the kitchen, upon consideration.

What I had omitted to do was to leave room for the OH’s natural resentment of everything.

‘Why are you asking him how to put new stuff on to a stick?  I know how to do that!  I can show you that!  Why are you not asking me?  Do you think I’m an idiot or something?’  (Oh here we go.)

‘Could you just show me how to clean this USB stick, please?’

‘Why, why, why do you want it cleaned?’

‘So I can put new stuff on it.’

‘Wouldn’t it be easier just to leave it there in the first place?’

‘Well no, because, oh never mind I have asked the S&H..’

‘Why are you asking him?  I know how to do things too.  Right, what do you want?’

‘To clean these sticks.’


‘So I can put stuff on them.’

‘You can add stuff!  You can add stuff!’  (Getting excited.)

‘But I like one stick one task and very definitely one stick for what I’m writing, not mixed up with pictures or downloads.’

‘Buy new sticks!’

‘I don’t want to buy new sticks, I have these. Just show me how to clean these, please.’

‘Right.  Let me explain how a computer works.’

‘No!  Just show me how to clean this stick!’

‘YOU THINK I’M AN IDIOT, DON’T YOU?’  (Second time in five minutes.)

Could you please just…’

‘Alright, alright.  Put the stick in.’

‘I’ve put the stick in.’

‘Take the stick out.’


‘So I can show you how to put the stick in.’

‘I’ve put the stick in.’

(Sniffily) ‘I was going to show you.’

‘I know how.’

‘You asked me to show you.’

‘Just show me how to…’

I’m doing it!  You think I’m an idiot don’t you?’

‘Yes, you don’t know any Latin!’

‘You don’t know any microbiology!!!!!!!!!!!’


‘OK.  Up on the screen, if you click on the windows symbol and E will come Explorer, that will show you

‘What’s on the stick?  It’s already there.’

‘Oh.  But if it doesn’t.’

‘But it has.’

‘You asked me to show you!’

‘But it’s doing it.’

‘What if it doesn’t?’

‘It is.’

‘You think I’m….’

And so on for five minutes.  At the end of which the S&H had absorbed the knowledge that I was not cleaning the stick, ejecting it, replacing it and loading it up because I was stupid but because I wished to learn.  I may have generated some knowledge, mainly the feeling that my desire to batter the OH repeatedly with the frying pan, should be resisted in case I didn’t know what I suspect I may have learned.

I always thought that my inability to play the piano was due to not learning to read the music, instead playing the piece by heart, whilst reading a book propped on the music stand, to fool my mother in the kitchen, listening.  On second thoughts the inclination of the piano teacher to last a good five minutes of the lesson before she felt the need to refresh her sherry in the kitchen, may have had something to do with it.  We made do without a metronome, instead keeping pace with the hiccups.

As trainee teachers we were taught that you can’t actually teach, learning happens while the student is asleep, if the knowledge has been presented sufficiently clearly in several different ways.  In the army they cleave to the rule of three:  tell them what you are going to tell them. tell them it and then tell them what you have just told them.  Then drill it.

As a tutor one to one, the necessity for clarity was obvious.

Learning is not aided by shouting.

In an ever changing universe, this may be a universal constant, like the speed of light in a vacuum, or gravity.

Any road up, whether constant or not, knowing something is absolutely no guarantee of being able to impart the knowledge to another, especially not by voluble expressions of idiocy.

It’s like that saying about summoning angels by thinking of them.  You can most definitely summon idiots by shouting for them and at them.



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