Monday, August 12, 2013

Lifelong Learning: a lesson from my parents

Lifelong Learning: a lesson from my parents
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.

A year into my new career, at age 50, the learning curve is steep, but I love it. After eighteen years working in the medical device industry, I had a choice: cruise to retirement or learn new skills. I chose the latter. I'm now working in the aerospace industry.

“Why would you take this job at half the pay?” several people have asked me in various ways.

“The pay cut is more than made up by the reward and the excitement of learning new things.”

My parents influenced me and my siblings to pursue lifelong learning.  “Society will pay more for your brain than for your back,” they advised us.

It was never a question of if I would go to college, but how. It took me ten years, including a four-year tour in the Navy, for me to graduate from college with a bachelors degree, and an additional nine years of night school to earn a masters degree, all this while working full-time and raising two small children. I had many nights at the kitchen table typing on the computer while rocking the baby with my foot.

My dad is my intellectual hero.  He's a bibliophile, always with his head in a book. He carefully reads the newspaper daily, and current events are often the topic of our discussions. He was my first engineering teacher: he taught me mechanics, machine shop work, and carpentry.  I’ve always been amazed at his ability to calculate fractions in his head.  

My mom taught me how to sew, type, and solder. (She worked many years in an electronics assembly plant.) Unfortunately, she failed at teaching me to cook, but that was entirely my fault.  She also taught me how to garden and to freeze and can produce.  And of course I always enjoyed having heart-to-heart talks with her while we were doing these.

My parents, well into their 70s  continue to learn, playing Scrabble and working crosswords and Sudoku puzzles. Each of them continue to build on their college level vocabularies, and continue to read the Bible daily.

A desire for lifelong learning begins at home. Thank you Mom and Dad!

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