Book Smarts

There’s an expression about being book smart vs street smart.  The idea suggests people are either smart in theory or smart in practice.  In reality, of course, no one is really all one or the other.

For example, I can study how people move their bodies up stairs, determine an appropriate exercise regimen, and create a plan that will make me better at climbing stairs using book smarts.  But I can’t actually get better at climbing stairs except by, well, climbing stairs.

Since there is no room for trial and error when hang gliding, knowing what we’re doing and why helps.  And, since hang gliding truly is the application of physics, it makes sense that getting rated as a pilot would require some book smarts.

Here is where I run into a line that divides book smarts from street smarts.  I am able to read the material through once, review it quickly, and then score what would be an “A.”  However, when I return to the training hills, I am unable to translate what the material said into what my body does.  This disparity between concepts in a book and physical application frustrates me.

But today, we are in my element.  We are taking our final two tests.  I read through the materials and took notes the day before.  I think we will be done around noon given that it’s only 10AM.

As it turns out, I finish up my second test shortly after noon.  Pat, on the other hand, has not finished the reading material for the first test yet.  Mind you that Pat is someone who fully understand mechanics and physics in a way I never will.  However, his in depth understanding of how things work doesn’t seem to help him speed through test taking.

At 2PM we run out and grab a bite to eat at the closest place around. It’s a combination gas station, convenience store, hamburger joint–an honest to goodness family owned place.  After filling our stomachs, we return to the office and Pat takes his first test.  I, thankfully, have my iPad for amusement.

I’ve gotten through an episode and a half of Glee by the time Pat takes his completed test up to the desk.  After a while, I hear him talking.  He has met Matt Tabor, the owner of Lookout Mountain, and they are gabbing.  I finish the second half of the episode I’m watching and decide I need to intervene.

It’s an interesting conversation and I get sucked in.  I eventually remember that my goal was to get Pat on task and I remind him I am waiting on him to finish his second test.

At 6PM, we have to leave because they are closing for the night.  Pat has 15 questions to go on the test, but he calls it a night and we head on home.  Since completing the test now requires backtracking, I am more irritated than he is.  I remind myself that this is fun.