GER 111: Introduction to German Language
Professor Kent Gustavson
Kent is no doubt one of Stony Brook's finest. He taught us more than just the German language. He taught us about life. Even though this was a language class, Kent taught us to engage in a life of learning, not waste it on superfluous human routines, like lounging in front of a TV all day and getting drunk.
Honestly, Kent reminded me of what it really means to learn and study. It's not about the grades or what you need to learn for your next test. It's about what you take out of what you get. Classes are much more than just letter or number grades. Take in what you're told and make something out of it. Don't just learn what you need to get an "A". Take what you learn and perfect it. Don't let grades bog you down or stress you out. In truth, it's not a total indicator of you as an individual. You go to school to learn, not for the grades on your transcript, but to be the difference in the world - one who knows enough to be useful and can change society for the better.
You learn to remember, not to forget. It's something we all tend to do: we learn what we need and we throw it away when were done. But, the truth is, we can't advance our society with a population like that. We learn to make a difference, not learn for our next test. Learning is a lifelong practice and we need not waste it's art away.
If there's one thing I can say, I'll admit it now. We are so young and our minds are so fertile. We're at the stage of our lives where we can take in what we learn and retain all that we're told and remember it all to be useful for the future. But, instead of learning and making use of that ability, many of us waste it away.
We take our knowledge for granted at the time of our lives where we can retain all that we're told at its best. Instead of choosing to learn and to remember all the knowledge we can to make a difference in the future, many of us choose to remember the days of partying, beer pong, and the latest shows on TV.
And for what? To look back at your youth and say you had fun with everyone else so that when you grow older you only know so much as the other?
I don't understand. Why conform to those ideals? It's not what college was made for. It's an institution of learning - a place where back then others sought for it's opportunity so that they, too, like the greats of their times, can make something out of their lives.
Why waste away the ability to learn? It's that mere human ingenuity that advanced us to the society we have today. It's our natural curiosity, like Benjamin Franklin's, that made humans the way they are.
Why would you waste it away and disregard its value?
Curiosity is that aptitude that made us human and that which built the foundation for the world we currently have. It's what advanced us as people and allowed us to live in the luxuries we have today.
Don't take it for granted. Take what you learn in school and make use of it. Leave school to change our world for the better, for the greater. Don't leave school four years later feeling you've learned nothing. With all the resources, the books, the journals, the papers, all the knowledge people have passed down from generation to generation readily available at your institution, it's no wonder why education is so important.
Read and be useful. Don't be like everyone else. Learn and be different so that you will be of use to society.
In a world where knowledge is key to progress and change, human curiosity is what keeps our kind going.