Junior high school. Can’t remember if it was 7th or 8th grade. Science class, which was called Physical Science, I think. This is before a lot of you were born.
For most of my two years in that class with that teacher, we were taught normally, like any other class I had. Subjects were covered in increments of like two or three weeks, I guess, beginning with a lecture and some reading, probably a quiz, do an experiment, and finish with a test on the whole unit.
I was a C student in that class — probably a low C — and my lasting impression of those classes is deep, deep boredom. I hated school generally. (In fourth grade, because I spent so much time staring out the window, they sent me to the school district psychologist to look at ink blots so that he could tell my parents that I dreaded school. I remember telling my mom she could have just asked me and I would have told her that.) Still, even as a school hater, I thought physical science was beyond the worst, the boringest of borings, and I couldn’t wait for it to end every day.
But for some brief segment of time — probably not a whole semester, more like a quarter — we did it differently. The teacher would hand us all a four- or five-page handout called an IIP, which probably meant something like individualized instruction packet. It was essentially a syllabus for the entire instruction plan for one topic as described above. But we did it at our own pace, mostly on our own.
We’d do a reading, probably watch a filmstrip or something, more reading, probably a quiz, do some kind of hands-on experiment, maybe write an essay, have a one-on-one discussion with the teacher for 15 or 20 minutes, study for a test, take the test, and then grab the next IIP and start over again with a new topic.
I was a completely different student. I flew through those units, my grades were off the charts (for me), and I genuinely enjoyed the learning and the doing. It was without doubt the most engaging, successful span of time I spent in school, probably until I got to college.
Having the whole unit defined and packaged in a way that allowed me to see the finish line before I even started — and being able to move through the material at my own pace — was electrifying. I’ll never forget it.
Not until I saw this thread and gave it some thought did I think to link that experience with my passion for a GTD system. I’d have to give it more thought to draw some specific parallels. But I’m convinced that was the first hint that I’d end up where I did, productivity-wise.
Epilogue: Today one of my primary job responsibilities is to edit medical research manuscripts and prepare them for submission to academic journals.