I was a decent student during my school years. In High School, I found it easier to be "friends" with my teachers than most of the kids because, well, teenagers. I didn't have a firm grasp on Science or Math, even though I'd been put in honors classes, it was one of those subjects that never naturally clicked in my head.
I wanted to take physics, but I was failing honors chemistry. I ended up being switched to regular chemistry halfway through my junior year so I wouldn't fail the whole year. I enjoyed History and of course English and honestly wanted to understand Math and Science, being the SciFi fan that I was. I figured maybe if I did well, I could do something sciencey in the future.
Well, that never happened for me. I don't blame anyone, not even myself, because I eventually realized where my heart was, the written word.
My senior year of High School was awesome. One of my English teachers, realizing how much I liked reading, writing poetry and stories, and the like, gave me access to the school's book room with ALL the textbooks and novels, old and new, that students borrowed during the school year. I read every Shakespeare play we had. I even read some old textbooks with stories I'd probably never find anywhere else at the time. He eventually brought novels from home for me to read! (Still love you for that, Mr. Foley!!)
College was a strange time for me. I didn't take the classes I wanted to, instead, took all the crap classes they make you take like a math, a science, and psychology. After I dropped out of college (for a few reasons) and went to work full time, I found this awesome cable channel on TV called The History Channel. My love of documentaries began soon after.
I spent many summers between the late 90s and early 2000s watching documentaries on everything from War to Food to Historical Figures and even fun ones like Movie Making and Bio-Documentaries about famous people. It was like VH1's Behind the Music for everything that mattered in the world.
That love of documentaries made me realize how much I loved History AND Science and helped me understand the latter more than any teacher in school.
To this day, I seek out documentaries to watch so I can learn and expand my worldview and personal knowledge. Just this weekend I watched a few episodes of Ugly Delicious on Netflix, which is hosted by Chef David Chang as he goes around the world learning the history behind some of our favorite foods like Fried Rice and Fried Chicken. I was actually surprised that Chef Chang, being a world-famous chef, didn't know some of the ugly histories behind well-known foods. It was a lightbulb moment for me, too, helping me to realize how much most people don't know about how the world around them works, myself included.
Today, there are so many documentaries and real-life stories that you could probably find a new one to watch every day for the rest of your life and never get bored. In my mind, documentaries took the place of a big chunk of my education after college. I eventually went back with a major in mind, and still hated the fact that I had to take a stupid "gym" class and more science classes that had nothing to do with my major. However, this time, I actually enjoyed my science class because I understood it more after watching science-based documentaries the years prior.
Sometimes I wish I had watched more documentaries when I was a teenager. I wish there were more around back then to access. I have a feeling if I had watched more, I may have understood Math and Science a bit more, and who knows, maybe I'd be writing some Hard Science Fiction right now. :-)
I was lucky. I found a way to educate myself in a way I enjoyed and it has stayed with me all these years. Here are a few I've watched recently.
All Governments Lie
Mister Rogers -It's you I like
The Pulitzer at 100
Great stuff to watch. Do you have any recommendations? I'd love to hear them!