image of my Dad, Alec GedyeIt seems I do all my thinking in the shower – this morning I realised that I got the ‘teaching’ bug from my Dad. This came as a surprise to me as Dad was not a teacher, at least not in the formal structured kind of way. His own education was curtailed at a very early age – before high school – when he was taken out of school to help his father split battens near Ohakune. Today that would be akin snapping a branch off the ‘black stump’, back then the ‘black stump’ would’ve been way back towards civilisation.

Luckily, Dad liked the outdoor life and probably spent more of his life outdoors than in. He was intensely interested in New Zealand and I think you could say Aotearoatanga – anything and everything, but with a particular interest in the flora and fauna. Dad thought the Boy Scouts were a great thing, and he eventually ran his own group in Mosston, near Wanganui. He did become disenchanted with the movement eventually – probably when the practicality faded away.

Charles Handy said, “The best learning happens in real life with real problems and real people and not in classrooms.” Dad was an informal learner – and role modelled that for us. “It never hurts to carry the knowledge around”, he’d say and his abilities to create things was something I envy. Dad wasn’t given to blindly listening to best intentioned advice, and instead was inclined to experiment based on his own knowledge and skill set. There were a number of tools repaired, welded, soldered etc, even though the general view was ‘that can’t be repaired, welded, soldered etc’.

From Dad I learned a number of things: try stuff rather than to only listen to ‘good advice’. I love green flowers, strange flowers and fragrant flowers. Be observant. Learn as often as is possible. Be practical – do stuff with your hands, heart and head. Be proud of what you do – put your name on it. Keep stuff you do as you pass through so you can chart your progress. Share your knowledge. Read. Delight in the unusual. Your culture and language isn’t the only one, and it’s not the only right world view. But is that, only a world view – a shared convention. Fame, fashion, singing and dancing is best done by those people who can. Trust your judgement, right or wrong, and take responsibility for it. Living creatures are neither good nor bad – they are interesting.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Robert A. Heinlein – Lazarus Long Time Enough For Love

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