I'd Like to Thank the (Khan) Academy

readinginparkI spend most of my days immersed in and writing about pop culture. I can tell you who’s-dated-who pretty much from the time that I was ten years old until now and recall what specific dress (designer and color) almost every celebrity has worn down the red carpet at The Academy Awards for the past five years. And one day it hit me. Most of my reading material is full of pictures, not words.

I felt like I’d digressed. I felt vapid, like Paris Hilton vapid. When Paris was having her Hollywood heyday it was cool to be dumb.

So how do I fix this, I wondered.

My mind immediately went back to high school. I know that I’d learned about differential equations and atoms at one point, but I’ve completely forgotten how many protons, neutrons, and electrons are in an atom. Do I need to know this stuff for my daily life as an actress and a writer? No, I definitely don’t, and most likely I never will need to know it. All the time I spent complaining when I was actually in high school that I would never need to use any of this information because I was going to be creative was true. What I didn’t count on was wanting to know the information.

So I decided that I was going back to school- online. I’d seen a piece on 60 Minutes about The Khan Academy. The Kahn Academy provides free education online for all levels in the subjects of math, chemistry, economics, physics, art, biology, history, finance and more. The way it works is that you can take a pre-test in each subject to test out of watching videos on certain subjects and then you practice your skills after you watch each topic’s video. They even provide online tutors if you’re having trouble with a particular subject and under each video people can post questions and answers to specific questions people have about the subject in the video.

Since I’m learning, re-learning that is, I go at my own pace. Some days I do math, some I do science. I’m excited about getting around to history. Trust me, my sixteen-year-old self would’ve never imagined I’d say that! I try to do about an hour a day. It doesn’t always happen, but what counts is I feel like I’m making a difference and I’m spending time bettering myself instead of reading up on the hottest new trend in nail art.

Yes, I feel a little bit like Billy Madison without having a multi-million dollar company to take over as the reward for my knowledge, but I feel good about myself. I feel well-rounded and like my head isn’t only full or fashion and gossip. Don’t worry. I haven’t lost my edge. I may have had a refresher on Schrodinger’s cat, but I can still tell you which of the Housewives from any city in the franchise are feuding.

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