Sunday, 18 December 2011

Objective Proficiency p 79. For Grown-Ups, Missing Those Back-To-School Blues. Extra Listening



Is it possible to play hooky from real life and return to the magical wonder of learning in a classroom? Writer Ben Dolnick investigates the intellectual doldrums that plague life after graduation.

Fill in the gaps

During fall excited students are 1__________/ _________ gossip about each other, and opinions about new subjects. They seem 2__________, even at 8:00 in the morning.
At their age, I 3_________ school, even in September. It was 4_____________ and it was 5________/ ________ me. I 6________/ _________  escape, like a prisoner 7________/ _______ days on his cell wall and that is the reason why I've been surprised 8______the 9_____/ _____ envy I feel for these high schoolers. It's not because they are young. It is, 10______ enough, the very thing that once tormented me, that they cannot choose what to study.

I used to 11_________ about life after graduation. If I didn't care about the 12___________ structure of 14th century Japan, I'd never have to give it another thought. Instead, I'd 13_________  attention on my 14_________/ _____/ _______subjects and the garden of my mind would 15_________ as never before.

But here's the thing. My plan worked too well. My dream of being free to explore my interests came much truer than I could have imagined. My RSS reader tells me there are 24 unread items 16__________/ ________ my political obsession of the moment. Twitter wonders if I've read the new essay by 17__________ author X.

There's a Monty Python sketch in which a TV 18__________ delivers the news for parrots. "There was an accident today but 19___________, no parrots were involved."  The sketch now seems like a reasonable description of my daily media diet.

Our 20__________ are not to blame for this, but ourselves. The Internet is, besides being a brilliant 21_________ of obsessions, a remarkable means of 22__________ new ideas. However new ideas have a way of getting 23_________ aside by the 24__________ of slightly 25_________ old ones.

26__________ into a seat, having never heard of utilitarianism or E.E. Cummings or the potato famine, then standing up 45 minutes later with your mind like a 27________/ ________/ ________. This is an experience hard for an adult to 28_______/ _______, so later in the year, when I see young people whose clothes and excitement have 29________, I'll 30_________ my pity with a 31_______ reminder. While I'm home reading what I think I like, they'll be learning about the life cycle of a 32_________, whether they like it or not.




KEY
1. brimming with (Brim: to be full of something; to fill something. E.g. Tears brimmed in her eyes. Brim with something Her eyes brimmed with tears. The team were brimming with confidence before the game.



2. thrilled 



3. loathed (detested) 



4. interminable /ɪnˈtɜːmɪnəbl/ lasting a very long time and therefore boring or annoying. E.g. an interminable speech/ wait/ discussion. The drive seemed interminable.



5.  forced upon (force something on/upon somebody to make somebody accept something that they do not want. E.g. economic cutbacks were forced on the government)



6.  longed for



7. crossing off 



8. at (surprised (at/by somebody/something) E.g. I was surprised at how quickly she agreed. I'm surprised at you, behaving like that in front of the kids.)



9. gush of (gush (of something) a sudden strong expression of feeling. Sp. chorro. E.g. a gush of emotion. A gush of envy)



10. oddly



11 fantasize



12 feudal /ˈfjuːdl/



13.  lavish (lavish something on/upon somebody/something to give a lot of something, often too much, to somebody/something. E.g. She lavishes most of her attention on her youngest son.)



14. handful of pet (Pet: that you are very interested in. E.g. his pet subject/ theory/ project, etc.)



15. blossom 



16. pertaining to (pertain to sb/ sth /pəˈteɪn/ to be connected with something/somebody. E.g. the laws pertaining to adoption)



17. beloved (/bɪˈlʌvɪd/ loved very much. E.g. in memory of our dearly beloved son, John. They were glad to be back in their beloved Ireland.)



18. anchor (/ˈæŋkə(r)/ also anchorman, anchorwoman a man or woman who presents a live radio or television programme and introduces reports by other people



19. mercifully (/ˈmɜːsɪfəli/ used to show that you feel somebody/something is lucky because a situation could have been much worse. Thankfully. E.g. Deaths from the disease are mercifully rare. Mercifully, everyone arrived on time. 



20. browsers ( browser /ˈbraʊzə(r)/ (computing) a program that lets you look at or read documents on the Internet. E.g. a Web browser. Firefox is my favourite browser.



21. feeder (a container filled with food for birds or mammals) 



22. encountering 



23. shoved (shove /ʃʌv/ to put something somewhere roughly or carelessly. E.g. She shoved the book into her bag and hurried off.



24. flood



25. reshuffled (reshuffle: put in a new order; rearrange)



26. Settling (settle: begin to feel comfortable or established in a new situation. E.g. he had settled into his new job. How are the kids settling into their new school?)



27. burst popcorn kernel (kernel: grain)



28. come by (encounter by chance. Manage to acquire or obtain (something). E.g. the remoteness of the region makes accurate information hard to come by. Jobs are hard to come by these days.)



29. faded (Fade: to disappear gradually. E.g. Her smile faded.)



30. temper (temper something (with something) to make something less severe by adding something that has the opposite effect. Sp. moderar. E.g. Justice must be tempered with mercy. The hot sunny days were tempered by a light breeze. His delight was tempered by regret.)



31. sober (serious and sensible. E.g. a sober assessment of the situation. He is honest, sober and hard-working. On sober reflection (= after some serious thought), I don't think I really need a car after all.)



32. fern (/fɜːn/ Sp. helecho)
Transcript:

September 30, 2011 - MELISSA BLOCK, host: Claes Oldenburg wanted to put art outside of formal institutions, but school is exactly where commentator Ben Dolnick wishes he was right now.

BEN DOLNICK: Lately, my neighborhood has been colonized by a species that exists only for a few weeks each fall: excited students. They're brimming with gossip about each other, and opinions about subjects they hadn't heard of two months ago. They seem thrilled, even at 8:00 in the morning.

When I was their age, I loathed school, even in September. It was interminable and, worse, it was forced upon me. I longed for escape, like a prisoner crossing off days on his cell wall, which is why I've been surprised at the gush of envy I feel for these high schoolers. It's not their youth. It is, oddly enough, the very thing that once tormented me, that they have almost no choice in what to study.

I used to fantasize about life after graduation, how free I'd be to read anything I wanted. If I didn't care about the feudal structure of 14th century Japan - and my God, did I not care - then I'd never have to give it another thought. Instead, I'd lavish attention on my handful of pet subjects and the garden of my mind would blossom as never before.

But here's the thing. My plan worked too well. My interests changed, but my dream of being free to explore them came much truer than I could have imagined. My RSS reader tells me there are 24 unread items pertaining to my political obsession of the moment. Twitter wonders if I've read the new essay by beloved author X.

There's a Monty Python sketch in which a TV anchor delivers the news for parrots. There was an accident today, the anchor says, but mercifully, no parrots were involved. The first time I saw it, the sketch seemed like a brilliantly absurd joke about narcissism. Now, it seems like a reasonable description of my daily media diet.

I know the problem is not in our browsers, but in ourselves. The Internet is, besides being a brilliant feeder of obsessions, a remarkable means of encountering new ideas. But, at least for me, new ideas have a way of getting shoved aside by the flood of slightly reshuffled old ones. Yes, I could be watching a lecture on the physics of ballet, but what about these hundred Andrew Sullivan posts?

Settling into a seat, having never heard of utilitarianism or E.E. Cummings or the potato famine, then standing up 45 minutes later with your mind like a burst popcorn kernel. This is an experience hard for an adult to come by, so later in the year, when I see young people whose clothes and excitement have faded, I'll temper my pity with a sober reminder. While I'm home reading what I think I like, they'll be learning about the life cycle of a fern, whether they like it or not.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MICHELE NORRIS, host: Ben Dolnick is the author of the book, "You Know Who You Are." You can comment on this essay in the Opinion section of our website, NPR.org.

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