What we had to learn to survive

Ed Smith
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

No end of topics for today's column. A friend suggested I should talk about Tom Rideout. I don't know if she likes him or not. I'd like to stay on her good side forever and ever amen, so I don't know what tack to take with Brother Tom.
Someone else said I should talk about the end to "have not." Unfortunately, he lives in St. John's where have not has already been no more. I live in that part of Newfoundland and Labrador which has yet to see the economic light from all this wonderful wealth, so he and I might be at odds on that one. Not that I give a fig Newton about him. Never liked him very much. Still don't.
Another lady thought I should tell about what an absolute fool I made of myself these past few days. But that's an old subject for those of you who know and love me best. But I might, another day.
I thought, to begin at least, I might point out to all you marvelous people who live off The Rock or in The Big Land, the most recent area in which Newfoundlanders have been seen to excel as a people. Up to now there have only been a few of those.
Most of you have heard about Mensa. That's the organization for which membership requires an IQ in the Top 5 per cent. Might be the top three. I don't know. Makes no difference to me - I'm in there anyway.
OK, you're right. I'm not a member. Never applied. But I have written articles for the Quebec edition of the Mensa newsletter. Yes I have. OK, so it was only one article, but it was not in my native tongue.
It's one thing to write in English for Mensa. It's quite another to do it in French. OK, so I had the help of a bilingual editor. I'm still quite proud of it whatever anyone from Upalong says.
A few years ago it was revealed that the largest membership from Canada in Mensa on a per capita basis was from guess which province? You got it, Pontiac. We out here in the middle of and on the fringes of the North Atlantic Ocean. That's right - us! Most perceptive people have stayed away from "Newfie Jokes" ever since.
Many of us at the time thought that the population of Ontario would immediately head for the Great Lakes in a lemming-like mass suicide move. You know that every so often lemming populations hurl themselves over a cliff to their deaths.
We weren't sure, you see, what effect the shock of that revelation (the Mensa thing, not the lemmings - come now) would have on those who consider themselves to be at the height of the Canadian intelligentsia. They didn't even come second.
No one will be surprised to know that was Alberta. There are so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians living there that it's a wonder Alberta didn't come first. Who came last? I'm not about to snitch on our maritime friends.
Many of you who read "the view" on a regular basis will recall, because I reminded you of it so often, that we in this fair province were named the greatest lovers in Canada several years in a row by Maclean's magazine. They did a poll every year and that was the result.
The poll asked the leading question, "How often do you make love a month?" When the answers from Newfoundland came in, the pollsters were surprised. From all age groups, the answer was an average of three. Given anecdotal information, they had thought the figures would be higher.
They went looking for an explanation and discovered that Newfoundlanders had assumed the question had a misprint in it. They thought it should have read, "How often do you make love a night?"
The most recent area in which we are said to excel is related to, but not quite the same as intelligence. The headline that drew my attention was, "Canadians Smarter Than Ever." Since it was these same Canadians who elected Stephen Harper, I thought I'd check to see where the fallacy lay in that headline.
Perhaps, I thought, Canadians have gotten smarter and are just waiting for the next election to undo the errors of the past. Then again, the Liberals are waiting for their next leadership convention to undo the errors of their past, so it may take some time before the whole mess corrects itself.
Actually, the survey that determines this stuff uses statistical indicators to reflect learning in school, in the home, at work and in the community. It's done on a worldwide basis by the Canadian Learning Center and verified by the European Commission's Joint Research Center.
While the nation as a whole improved, the steepest improvement was in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. And, get this, of the country's 10 most improved cities, St. John's topped the list. People in other places such as Fogo Island and Wabush may be wondering why I'm so excited about St. John's achieving anything.
Well, imagine what they would have found had they surveyed Fogo Island, Wabush, Stephenville and Springdale. How much more have we progressed in learning to do, learning to live together, learning to be and learning to know - the four pillars of learning identified by the Learning Center in lifelong learning?
They would have been blown away! Our communities across this island have had to learn so much in the last 15 years about survival and getting along with each other and acquiring knowledge they can use to grow in this new world in which we find ourselves that it would fill an encyclopedia.
So congratulations St. John's! Just remember that the rest of us are right there with you. We're all doing better, right? Absolutely!
Now, about Tom Rideout …

Ed Smith lives in Springdale.
His e-mail address is esmith@persona.ca

Organizations: Mensa, Maclean's, Canadian Learning Center European Commission Joint Research Center

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada Quebec The Big Land Alberta North Atlantic Ocean Ontario Great Lakes Fogo Island Springdale Stephenville

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page