What Did You Learn In Class Today?

(c) Dr. Arthur Holub, May 1999

If I may paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, "The class will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what we did here."

I think this sums up my expectations concerning what we should accomplish in our computer classes. I learned a long time ago that the human brain, mine at least, can absorb only so much and that it becomes much more important to remember where to look things up than try to remember all the detail with which we are presented. I am happy just to remember that we did something and can look up the details later if I need them.

As I have grown older I have jokingly developed what I call a 'selective' memory. That is, I listen to or read a lot of things but only try to remember a small part because I know that I am losing brain cells and only can absorb so much.

Well, I researched this a little and found that it's true, I (we) really are losing brain cells as we get older and it does become harder to remember or store things in our overloaded brains. And, of course, nothing seems to overload our brains like computer detail, of which there is too much and what there is, is too complicated anyway.

So, my selective memory really is a necessity. My friend, Dr. Earle Davis, says that we lose synapses as we grow older and I tell people that when I arise in the morning and step out of bed, I slip and slide on the synapses that I have lost during the night.

If you think this is not true, read what Bertoni-Freddari, et al, say about this: "Synapses are known morphological correlates of memory and cognition and may undergo significant deterioration in aging."

Now, if this doesn't make it crystal clear, Yves Ponroy continues by writing: "At birth, we have 14 billion nerve cells {brain cells} that never regenerate; they are our starting stock and must carefully be preserved."

He continues by making a strong pitch for taking computer classes: "These nerve cells, or neurons, are best protected when they are used; therefore, biologically speaking, it has been proven that by using our heads, we protect our brains better from the aging process."

"In spite of that, by the time we reach the age of retirement, we will have already lost one billion neurons. Fortunately, this loss in number is compensated by an increase in size... at least of the ones still active, which are used in learning. Moreover, the connections between these neurons multiply so that with aging, our minds may be slower, but our thoughts are more concise and more profound."

I don't know if Ponroy knew about the Senior Center's computer classes when he wrote this, but he sure seems to make a good case for continued learning.

This might even be stretched a bit to support my own use of 'selective' memory. Ah, it's not only me, but all of us, that are losing the ability to absorb all this detail, especially that which is involved in trying to understand the new "Information Superhighway."

So, when taking a computer class, realize that I understand, "the class will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it {should} never forget what we did here."

Have fun. Enjoy the learning experience and keep the neurons active and happy.


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