Learning

Months ago I signed up for a course on coursera.org. Sita suggested I do so, and we both signed up for Model Thinking. I had forgotten about it until I received word that the course would start on the 3rd, my first vacation day.

Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company. Its founders are shooting for worldclass education for millions of students, of all ages who can access free courses given by top notch professors from top notch schools around the world using state of the art technology. All that the students need is a computer and internet access to download the lectures, readings and links.

Axel, Tessa and Jim had gone into town and I had offered to babysit. It seemed like a good opportunity to check out my first online class.

According to a thread in the discussion section of the online course, many other people had also signed up for the course; maybe thousands, ranging in age from 11 to 73, from all continents and countries that are worlds away from each other, both geographically and ideologically (Vietnam, Serbia, Peru, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Portugal, France and South Africa).

I planted Faro on my lap and we took the first session of the Model Thinking course together, widening the age range by another 10 years and 9 months.

We listened to five lectures: Why Models? Intelligent Citizens of the World. Thinking More Clearly. Using and Understanding Data.  Using Models to Decide, Strategize and Design.

I think Faro liked the lectures, especially when the prof (Scott Page from University of Michigan) drew on the white board with his red pen, and illustrated then this then that model using squares, circles and arrows. According to the prof, after this course, Faro and I will be able to partake more intelligently in conversations about anything. You can’t start early enough with important stuff like that.

Around lunch time Axel called to suggest I join them for lunch at a nice restaurant on the lake, just when Faro had gone to sleep, exhausted from our two hours of top notch lectures. 

I had forgotten how much work it is to pack up an infant, especially one that is asleep and can’t help. It took me several trips to the car to get him and all his gear safely packed up.

We had a lovely lunch at the lakeside, fresh mozzarella, grilled eggplant, tomatoes and a pinot grigio followed by a quarter inch of espresso. For post-prandial entertainment we strolled through the giardini del villa Melzi, a two hundred year old garden bordering the lake and planted with trees from all over the world that had grown into beautifully proportioned giants: a Montezuma pine, Californian Sequoias, a Lebanese cedar and thick camellia hedges. If you were born into nobility, life was pretty nice here. Now it is nice even if you aren’t.

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