Bret Turner on importance of “talking” & “listening” to professors

Emerson Hall at Hamilton College in Clinton, N...

Emerson Hall at Hamilton College

Talk and listen! That is what Bret Turner did at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York (in photo at left) and it paid off as this August 2nd, 2013 link at the New York Times shows.

No, I don’t mean the kind of desk-side chat a student has with a professor when they ask when exams are scheduled or if they can get an extension on a work project. I mean really talking to their teachers and really listening to what they say. For example, how many reading this post have asked their teachers such questions as:

  • Why did you chose this particular specialty?”
  • Why did you chose your particular area of research?
  • Why should I make this subject the focus for the rest of my life?

Why are those kinds of personal questions important? Well, in Turner’s case, “listening” to a particularly energetic chemistry teacher influenced his major area of study. He also discovered some excellent life lessons from his Hispanic Studies teacher, such as:

  1. Few things in life are actually important, and
  2. Life is like a river and most people choose to remain on the shore.

So true.

I am currently of retirement age and recognize that far too many things that were important ten or even twenty-five years ago, I can’t even remember now. Perhaps most importantly, however is the fact that I now recognize that the most challenging and fulfilling times in my life were when I jumped into the river and navigated both the seen and unseen rocks and crevices.

In fact, even though Turner is just starting his life’s journey, I suspect that he, like most people will find that the times they left the shore were the most rewarding. In fact, one could apply the river metaphor to what he has already done: “Chatting with 200 of 223 faculty members, a half-hour to an hour each.” Hardly a safe-on-shore stance.

Anyway, in my opinion, the crux of the matter of this NYT piece is that I agree with Bret Turner that talking and listening to one’s teachers and mentors can be very empowering.