My husband is an extraordinarily curious man. He has taught himself. He is that illusive person who can actually learn things by reading BOOKS and, yes, he did read the encyclopedias. And, like me, he learns from discussion and from teaching. He has been my teacher all these years.
We are coming up on our 28th anniversary and all throughout these years, we have talked. We have discussed. We haven't argued much. Or fought, really. This is likely because he is a calm, fuzzy, arrogant bear and I am a yapping, knee jerk, constantly-excitable, arrogant little dog.
I am reading Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea. I decided to do this after meeting with the Thirsty Skeptics and realizing just how much I haven't read and do not know. (I am constantly realizing this and invariably ashamed by it.) I expected this book to be enormously challenging. I thought I was a novice. I am not a novice, and so far the book is very easy, and sometimes tedious as much of it is a review of things I DO know. And why do I know them? I have given this some thought.
I never studied evolution in school, and I never did a serious science project or dissected a frog or cat. In college I took a physical anthropology class, so it must have been in that class that I was, apparently quite-thoroughly, educated in Darwin's evolutionary theory. But what I remember are the jaw bones and my excitement at new ideas and the excellent teacher with whom I engaged in protracted discussions about many personal things. I do remember the class as an a ah! life changer. But this was so long ago, before I got pregnant with James and dropped out of college.
So here I am, reading this book on the philosophical application of Darwin's "dangerous idea" and breezing through the book because, yes, I do know this stuff. And it's such a simple idea anyway. And I have grappled with so many of its philosophical possibilities all these years, through discussions with my husband, and in the making of poems, (mostly poems).
I am such a LARGE forest person. I do not learn by dwelling on details. I have almost no capacity to visualize charts and graphs in my head, much less twist and bend metal shapes in there (see any IQ test). I can think in the abstract, as long as I have a context. This is why math never stuck.
I learn, in large part, by intuition. I learn in what seem to be huge leaps, but of course, are not. I take in information and my brain digests it while I'm sleeping and while I'm writing poems and contemplating the clouds and having vigorous discussions.
I will mention something here. I don't especially like what this says about me, but intelligence is the single most important thing for me when it comes to mating. I must be with my intellectual equal and I am selfish and insecure enough to prefer a partner with a superior intellect. I want you because of your marvelous brain. I want you because you can teach me things. But in spite of this limited (and possibly immoral?) viewpoint, I have been extraordinarily lucky to find someone is my intellectual equal and is also kind. He is kind. And, well, he is kind. I am very lucky.
He would hasten to add that I have been his teacher as well. And this is true. Of course. But really, I have depended on him for information, scientific and philosophical, for years. I am only now gathering information on my own, or at least trying to. And this speaks to the difference between us. I thrive in a structured setting that comes with many carrots--the classroom. I wish I had been thrown into a vicious Socratic debate when I went into first grade. He, though, doesn't much like, or need, a classroom because he doesn't care about the carrots.
My hope now is to shift myself away from my need for an overseer. And to gather the courage? energy? chutzpah? to work, to study, to really listen. Listening is the labor. Listening is loving. But I'll save that for another day.