Meme: Easy and Hard Things to Learn

I love memes but I never seem to find good ones that I want to participate in. Finally, however, I found a really cool meme created by blogger n8chz:

The gist of the meme is to list three things in the course of your lifelong learning that came as natural as falling off a log, especially if they strike you as possessing elegance, expository power, arousal of curiosity, or best of all, a lot of formerly disparate concepts somehow “fall into place.” The other list is three things that are utterly opaque to your mind, that you have made repeated attempts to learn, but for some reason or other, you just don’t seem to be meant to learn these things.

Three things that make sense to me:

1. Spanish grammar. When I explain Spanish grammar to my students, I always tell them that we are not going to memorize pages of rules and exceptions. Instead, we will discuss the philosophy of the language and discover the internal logic that organizes its grammar. The Spanish language makes so much sense to me that just staring at a long and beautiful sentence in it makes me feel like everything is right in the world.

2. Cooking. It’s the only creative thing I do, but I do it very well. I never had to learn to cook. It just happened for me, somehow. Just like blogging. Less people enjoy the fruits of my cooking than those of my blogging, however.

3. Blogging. People say they never know what to write about, but I just don’t get it. I have so many ideas for posts that I could just keep publishing them for weeks and never run out.

Three things that make no sense to me:

1. Social chit-chat. When I see people gather and chat about nothing for hours, I feel like a creature from another planet. I can see they are enjoying it but their enjoyment is alien to me. Within 5 minutes, my jaw begins to ache because I try hard to stifle yawns. If anybody can explain to me what it is that people gain from discussing absolutely nothing during all those social gatherings, I will be grateful.

2. Networking. I know it has its uses and that people have found jobs and advanced in their careers through networking. I, however, view it with horror. I mean, don’t people know that one only pursues them, chats them up and keeps in touch because one hopes to use them for personal advancement? Isn’t that kind of blatant?

3. Fashion. I love beautiful clothes and shoes. However, I don’t see the point of abandoning my personal style that I worked hard on figuring out in favor of something that will look atrocious on me just because everybody is wearing it at the moment. I realize that the idea of fashion is to show that you have enough money to buy new clothes every season. I, however, don’t have enough money for that and don’t feel it makes me a lesser human being. If I can look fantastic in a dress that I bought for $28 seven years ago, then who cares that it is completely out of style and nobody wears anything like this right now? Better for me because I will look completely original.

I realize that I kind of transformed the idea of the original meme here but I enjoyed it and I hope my readers will, too.

What are your 3 things?

13 thoughts on “Meme: Easy and Hard Things to Learn”

  1. Three things that I learned/learn easily:

    1) To Read
    I don’t even really remember the process of reading. I just remember that one day I couldn’t read and then somehow I could read. I remember being so confused by the kids in my class who couldn’t read. It seemed so simple to me.

    2) Teaching
    Teaching comes naturally to me. I think I can break down complicated theories/texts/processes in ways that make sense. I have had pedagogy classes and I do read articles that deal with pedagogoy but mostly I find that they all confirm my instincts. Teaching is always a work in progress but I think I have a natural knack for it.

    3) Making decisions.
    This isn’t really a learning thing. I don’t understand people who agonize over decisions. I also don’t understand people who are surprised by the consequneces of their decisions. I feel that I can quickly assess a situation and predict the consequnces of a course of action. I tend to make decisions quickly but I don’t make silly decisions either. I can weigh the consewunces of a course of action. I can just do it quickly and decisively.

    Things that are difficult for me:
    1) Riding a bike
    I think riding a bike is EXTREMELY difficult. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 12. And people say you don’t forget how to ride a bike? Not true. I TOTALLY forgot how to ride. I tried riding a bike relitively recently and could barely stay on. Bikes are difficult and terrifying!

    2) Driving
    This is like riding a bike I suppose. I am almost 40 years old and can’t drive. I think driving is awul and stressful and I wish we had better public transit in this country!

    3) Card games
    My partner and a small group of my friends like to get together and play cards. I enjoy this too. It’s great fun. But for some reason, I can’t remember the rules to card games to save my life (and I generally have a good memory.) They can all patiently teach me a game. I will learn said game with a great deal of enthusiasm and then I forget the game the next time we get together. I think I have learned to play one game about 4 seperate times. I have no idea why I can’t keep the rules in my head. But I can’t!


  2. Networking: Thank you! This has always irked me too. The way I understand it, people do it knowing that people are blatantly using them to advance their careers, but quite honestly think nothing of it and do the same right back, quid pro quo style. Apparently, people somehow think that hearing somebody talk about themselves at a party is a better way of judging their abilities than actually reviewing their work? And that the odd phone call or lunch date means they are really serious about it? I’ve gotten interview requests after simply meeting somebody at a social event and mentioning what I do, despite it being only vaguely related to the position in question. I don’t understand it at all. It’s almost like a prisoner’s dilemma, where if nobody “networked”, or if everybody “networks”, the end result is the same. But if only a few do it, more people know them (superficially) thus giving them a very slight advantage.

    And yet, almost everything I read on the subject says, “Don’t like networking? Here’s how to get over yourself and do it anyway!”


    1. Do you really think those people actually believe what they are saying? I think “you’ve got to network” is a coded way to say “not only doesn’t life owe you a job, life doesn’t owe you an audition, an apprenticeship, a seat in the civil service exam room, even a J.O.B. interview.”


  3. Things that come easily to me: statistics. I wish I had discovered Statistics when I was younger. Reading, too. I can’t remember ever not being able to read.
    Things that don’t come easily to me: housework. I keep the kitchen and bathroom clean, but every other room has books; on shelves, beside the chairs, on tables, on the floor, on the stairs. Also papers from the various projects I am working on. Given a choice of reading or almost anything else, I’ll choose reading.


  4. 1. Another reader here. Seriously, I got from picture books to reading Barrie’s Peter Pan in one summer. After I transferred schools, I ended up in a reading class with sixth graders.

    2. Accumulating information. Goes along with the reading I suppose, but I’m a goldmine of absolutely useless facts. Like the mating habits of penguins, why cormorants in the Galapagos can’t fly, how Theodore Roosevelt evaded death, and how to not get attacked by cougars. Or where to go in the city.

    3. Swimming and bike riding. I love that I can bike almost everywhere in the summer.

    Things I am bad at:

    1. Languages. I’m terrible at any language but English.

    2. Math: I can budget and figure out a recipe, but that’s as far as my skills go.

    3. Housework.


  5. I’ve never gotten networking, either. It seems that the sole purpose of networking is to use people for your own gain. I And I know that it can be a quid pro quo sort of thing, but still. The interest chiefly stems from how much the person can do to give you what you want. I feel like if someone tried to “network” with me like that, I would be less inclined to view them as positive candidates. I guess that’s a minority opinion, though.


  6. 2. Networking. I know it has its uses and that people have found jobs and advanced in their careers through networking. I, however, view it with horror.”

    Hummm, are you sure of this?

    Clarissa, could you define networking for academical purpose?


    1. I gave a perfect example of just such a networker here:

      These are people who meet you and pretend to be interested in your work just because they think you can be useful to them. If I tell a person I want to read their research, it’s only because I really do, not because I want to butter them up and get, say, a reference letter out of them. And I only keep in touch with people who genuinely interest me.


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