Young people who
are contemplating a design career often seek advice on
what they should study. To them I say, "Anything and everything!" Why
do I offer this advice? Because you never know when something
you've learned may come in handy.
Here in Arizona, there has been much controversy surrounding
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne's recent suggestion
that fourth-year high school math should be dropped as a state
university admission requirement. Mr. Horne was even quoted
in the newspaper as saying that calculus and trigonometry are
not useful to most adults.
Permit me to share the story of a recent problem I encountered
graphic design practice: I was designing a postcard, and wanted
to add an accent to the lettering in the card. But nothing
I tried had the right look. So, I decided to apply a bit of
knowledge that I'd gained in a college calculus class taken
more than a quarter century ago. Viola, the accent came out
Okay, so you might be asking, "Why should I take advice
on calculus from a designer?" Why, indeed. Perhaps you'd
rather take a doctor's advice on classical music. Permit me
to introduce you to our consulting physician, Benjamin
Carson, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University
He grew up in the ghettoes of Detroit and Boston, and was,
by his own
admission, the dumbest kid in his class until the fifth grade.
That's when his mother decided to restrict the amount of television
Ben and his brother, Curtis, watched. She believed that the
boys' heavy TV viewing
habits were having a negative effect on their grades. This
made Ben and
Curtis very unhappy.
Even worse, Mean Old Mom made the two boys read two books a
week. And they had to give her a written report on what they
For Ben, the payoff came one day in science class. The teacher
had brought a shiny black rock, and only one kid knew what
it was. Not only did Ben correctly identify the rock as obsidian,
he also described how the rock was created through volcanic
activity. Both the teacher and the class were amazed. And Ben
Carson turned into a knowledge junkie. By seventh grade, he
was the top student in his class.
In high school, his TV viewing was still restricted, but
Ben took quite a
liking to a quiz show called "College Bowl." He
dreamed of going to college
and participating in the show. But "College Bowl" had
two categories where he wasn't an expert: fine art and classical
music. As he writes in his book Think Big, "[W]hat
would a poor, black kid from a lower economic background in
Detroit know about those two areas?"
So, he started visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts, and
listening to the
local classical music station. "My friends thought I was
weird," he recalls.
Alas, "College Bowl" went off the air before Ben
Carson had a chance to
enter the competition. But, when he interviewed for a residency
position at Johns Hopkins, he was delighted to find that the
neurosurgery training program director was a classical music
buff. In fact, they had both attended the same concert the
Again from Think Big, he recalls, "We discussed the concert,
moved into a
discussion of classical music in general, and soon the time
the interview ran out. I was one of the two interns accepted
neurosurgery residency program." Ben Carson's knowledge
of classical music also helped him impress a fellow Detroiter
who later became his wife. Ben and Candy
Carson have three sons, who perform in the Carson Four string
quartet with their mother.
The moral of my story is that no knowledge is ever wasted.
anything and everything!
Learn more about postcard marketing
and promotion with Martha's
Postcard Marketing Secrets,
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here to order your copy.
©2004, Martha Retallick