This is one of the most memorable lines of the movie The Matrix. “I know kung fu,” Neo says. My question is, has anyone else ever experienced something to where EVERYTHING comes together? I have one time in my life. The only difference is that I had to work for it, it obviously wasn’t just downloaded into my brain.
I was in college taking a computer language course for engineers called Fortran. The professor spoon-fed us notes on a screen that we simply copied all semester. Can you say B-O-R-I-N-G?
We all learn in different ways
It’s true, some of us learn linearly. We like to be spoon-fed, sort of as our GPS spoon-feeds us where to turn to get to a destination. I don’t do well with that sort of instruction. I need to know why I am making a turn, why I am learning this. How will I use it? How does this line of code work into the project that I am assigned? I’m not a computer that just looks for the needed data and doesn’t ask why. Show me the 30,000-foot view of the city, then tell me where I should go. With that information, I can then use gps; it’s just that I would prefer a map first. When it comes to learning, as a teacher, don’t be a gps, just spoon-feeding me information. I don’t learn that way. I pity the students where a professor doesn’t try and communicate on several levels.
This was the case with my Fortran class I was taking. The professor, who was trying to get his PHD was thrown into teaching a beginning Fortran class. I’m sure he wasn’t excited.
The end of the semester project
All during the semester, we would be given projects to do. We had to write code to be able to generate whatever the assignment said we had to generate. Supposedly we had been given the tools up to that point of the semester. Fortunately, I had a buddy that knew much more than I did, so we worked together to do each project, or should I say, I watched while he figured it out. The whole class did not make sense to me at all. At the end of the semester, our final was a large project that was due. This was our exam of sorts. My buddy and I collaborated on it. He got to a roadblock and admitted, “I have no clue what to do.” I thought to myself, “Well if you don’t know what to do, we are screwed.” We both sat there looking at our notebooks with absolutely nothing on the blank page. I had taken down every single word from the professor’s overhead projector, looking through all of my notes. All of a sudden, it was like a light switch had just been turned on in my brain. All of the notes I had taken were instantly downloaded, or at least it seemed, into my brain. I looked at my buddy and said, “I know kung fu!” He looked at me and said, “What are you talking about?” I replied, “I know how to do this project. I understand the entire semester.” I took my pen and started writing code faster than I had ever seen him write code. He said, “What? How? Are you sure?” I replied very confidently, “I don’t know how, but I know exactly what to do. This will work, I guarantee it.” My brain and my pen were one. I just watched my hand as code flowed from the tip of my pen onto the page. I was amazed while I was writing the code. After about 15 minutes. I looked up to Morpheus, I mean my buddy and said, “It’s done.” I went to school and uploaded the code to the school computer and voila, out came the project, perfectly completed, well except one comma that made every result show up on a separate sheet of paper the size of a ream of paper. Once I removed the comma, it printed beautifully and we turned it in. I got an A.
What I experienced that day was AMAZING. I have never ever experienced it again. It was an epiphany. I do hope that somehow I am able to experience this once again. It involved work and dedication, but the sudden connection of every synapse that had been wandering around in my brain that semester was a feeling that was beyond anything that I have ever experienced.