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Miss Smith Had It Almost Right

Bill Jarrard's picture

Smarter not Harder Miss Smith Had It Almost Right when she said ‘study hard now, so you don’t have to work hard later’.

When I was in school back in Canada a long time ago – walking five miles to school in the snow (in bare feet), taking notes with a sharp stick on clay tablet, and watching in amazement as our neighbour Noah built that crazy boat, I had a very wise English teacher, Miss Smith – a small and enthusiastic individual, passionate about the written word.

Miss Smith said to us more than once to ‘study hard and get a good education, so you don’t have to work so hard later’.  Wise words, or so it seemed, as what she meant was if we studied hard and got a good university education we’d be the engineers designing the railroads spreading out across the Canadian prairies, not the labourers laying the tracks.  We’d be managing things in the new horseless carriage factories, not assembly-line drones.  We’d be flying the intercontinental airbuses to exotic destinations, not waiting in the air-bridge to quickly clean the plane as it changed passengers and refuelled.

So most of us studied hard and got university degrees, went on to solid jobs and became competent managers, and some of us even went back to school to do a Master’s degree or even a PhD.  Of course some of our fellow students didn’t study hard – thank goodness otherwise there’d be no railroads, no Ford cars and trucks, and we’d all be flying in messy planes – I guess. 

But there was another group of people who didn’t study hard either, and it’s only later we learnt they might have had the right idea – either by clever design or dumb luck.  What they did instead of studying harder, was they studied smarter!

I think Miss Smith might have advised us better if she’d said ‘study smarter and get a great education, and you’ll never have to work for a living’.

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