Personal Online Journal

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Come along, come along" is the call that will win

My wife reminded me last night that "Most men can be led, but few can be driv'n". (Hymn 244)  I should remember how wise she is especially when it comes to relationships.

It also reminded me of this story of Tyler Jarvis. 
When I went to graduate school many years ago, I was lucky enough to be admitted to a school with some famous faculty members. I had done pretty well in my undergraduate classes, and I thought I was pretty smart; so when it came time to choose classes and teachers, I chose some of the most famous teachers I could. 
One of them was especially impressive. He was a Fields medalist—the nearest thing in mathematics to a Nobel Prize winner. Other students spoke of him with awe, both because of his brilliance and because of his reputation for criticizing students. When I heard how he had berated a student for being both lazy and stupid, I determined that I would never give him cause to criticize me like that. I decided never to ask him for advice or help until I had exhausted every other means for solving a problem. The result was that he never criticized me, but I also never learned much from him. I spent three years in his classes and only spoke with him for a total of about forty-five minutes. 
Another of his students had no fear at all—he would go to this professor almost every day to ask questions. And he was criticized regularly, but he never seemed to care. I thought he was completely crazy, but he went back almost every day, got his questions answered, and learned a lot. 
It took me several years after graduation to realize that I had wasted the opportunity of a lifetime—this other student wasn’t so crazy after all. He got many hours of personal tutoring from one of the world’s greatest mathematical minds, and I got—well, I got through graduate school safely, without being criticized.
If I am to learn, I must be willing to ask questions and not give into the fear that I will be criticized. Maybe one of the most important things I can ask is, "How am I doing?" of my wife.

No comments: