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My knowledge peaked at 6th place, then it was hell of a downhill race

My knowledge peaked at 6th place, then it was hell of a downhill race

Eve Brandt Curstius

Now that my son is studying for the first week of his life exams, a glorious week at the same time because you have so many free and unblessed hours that you will have to fill all those hours with learning, memories of my time as a high school student come to mind.

I can even help him with the mnemonics that suddenly come to me again. I’m on my head Kefali — I fell on my head,” I said as I looked at his lists of Greek. Kevali! That’s a head!

I have rarely had a more satisfying moment as a mother. My son looked at me condescendingly, but I saw that the word was there now. Kefali will never forget. By the way, it was the only memory that stayed in my mind.

Today’s students have a website that wants to test you with endless patience, with words from every language imaginable, and that site gives you a score at the end too. I would spend hours making cards, the word on one side, and the Dutch translation on the other. I also had a whole system with dashes that I put in my word lists next to difficult words. (One dash: a difficult word, two dashes: a very difficult word.) You also had German words you could never get into your head, which were in the light green textbook with the depressing title Forter flangeSubtitle: Eine Auswahl der wichtigsten, dem Holländer nicht ohne Weiteres verständlichen deutschen Wörter† And you have words that have many meanings – why do some words mean “sometimes, according to, gradually” and why the hell should you know that?

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I don’t dwell on it for long, my motto then was, blind block. As my father used to tell me when I was learning, “You’ll never know what you know now.” I took credit for that. I won’t know much again, and thought it was a good idea. This was also very true: I now remember 2 percent of what I knew at the time. Sometimes I remember fondly in retrospect that there was a brief period in my life when I knew what the windward side of the mountain was. My knowledge peaked in the sixth grade of high school and after that it was a hell of a downhill race.

“You’ll never know as much as you know now,” I hear myself say now. And just a little victorious, when my son fills in the wrong meaning of the word on the website State: This means “immediately”! I learned that!’