Friday, September 25, 2009

Peter Rabbit and Higher Education

My institution of higher learning has two classrooms; my kitchen and my car. I imagine there are those erudite professors who might shake their head at the inadequacy of such an environment dedicated to my education. But this is where a mother spends most of her time, and this is where I have opportunity to listen to public radio. Granted, their are distractions; one six-years-old, one four, and one just over a year.

Surprisingly my children are very accepting of the constant flow of information that comes from the radio. On occasion-but not often-I will grant them an "Itsy Bitsy Spider", but their main auditory diet consists more of Steve Inskeep, Diane Rehm, and Neal Conan than the beloved little contrary Mary who grows a garden on cockle shells. Although we recently listened to an interview with an author that compiled a book of all the nursery rhymes he could discover. Mary was mentioned that day.

I began my University experience as an eighteen-year-old freshman at the University of Utah in 1994. I remember the thrill of a clean notebook and a new syllabus evolving into tattered pages filled with my quick scrawl about Dionysus' indulgence, or the rate of rotaion of the moon on its own axis combined with its rate of revolution around the Earth resulting in our only ever seeing one side of the satellite.

My notebook today is a Peter Rabbit shopping list with a magnet on the back that keeps it fixed to the refrigerator. My note taking is most often done while I am either cooking or washing dishes. Inevitably the picture of Peter is smeared with tomato sauce or oil, or wrinkled from the dishwater that drips from my gloves as I try to write the name of someone or some book before I forget. This is a snapshot of my notes as they stand today:


Ibu Patel

The Foreigner's Gift- Frada Jami

Erin McKean - Dictionary Evangelist

kalamata olives
curry powder

American Theocracy - Ken Phillips

Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv

It is a shopping list for my kitchen and my enlightenment. Sometimes when I am not in my kitchen I forage for scraps of paper on which to quickly record these bits of information that will turn into trips to the library, an internet search, or a conversation with my husband. Periodically I make a sweep of car, diaper bag, desktop, and any other liable, cluttered corner, to collect all the scraps and save each gem in a file on my computer. Otherwise what might have been instructive, or even revelatory becomes merely clutter and then just gone.

I am not done with universities. But until I return as a "mature" student, I'll keep the radio on and send my meager offering during the public radio fund drive. After all, it's the cheapest tuition I've yet paid.


Menner said...

I love public radio. It is the cheapest media I consume, and I feel guilty that I don't give them more than I do.

What would this country and its stay at home moms do without it?

How do you manage to actually pay attention to the broadcast when you have three kids vying for your attention?

Gita said...

I've never thought of it that way, that NPR is my university. I will have to use that explanation next time I want to donate. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jessica.