"They show extreme intelligence—even problem-solving intelligence. Especially the big one. We bred eight originally, but when she came in, she took over the pride and killed all but two of the others. That one... when she looks at you, you can tell she's working things out."
—Robert Muldoon, former game warden of Jurassic Park
LEARNING! It is the crux of what makes us... human. Or the crux of what makes us velociraptors! I don't presume to know what you are.
But regardless of whether you're a human or a velociraptor, we all can agree on one thing: Learning is fun! Sometimes learning gives you valuable skills (like mathematics, or automotive repair, or figuring out how to open kitchen doors); sometimes learning makes you a better-rounded individual (regardless of our differing day-to-day routines, who among us hasn't benefited from knowing how Romanticism's aesthetic nuances influenced European politics in the first half of the 19th century?); and sometimes, learning simply gives you a few key tips that others haven't figured out—thus giving you a decided advantage if you ever find yourself in a life-or-death situation, perhaps while trapped on a wealthy billionaire's ill-advised experimental wildlife preserve on an island off the coast of Costa Rica.
Alas! Portland's public schools are floundering, and the skyrocketing costs of higher education have made it unobtainable for the average American. That means it's up to us to learn things. And—ugh—sometimes that takes work. And here's something else we can all agree on: We're lazy! Alas again!
But perhaps—if we remember that learning can be fun—we'll rediscover some much-needed motivation to go out and learn. In that spirit, we—your esteemed servants at the Portland Mercury—decided to do just that.
In the following pages, you'll see what we decided to learn. What each of us learned was left up to us, with only one condition: We had to pursue something we were genuinely interested in learning. For some, that meant learning to repair a sink; for others, that meant deciphering the myriad complexities of the Middle East. For some? Learning to twerk. For others? Siphoning knowledge from the unsuspecting and overly trusting elderly in order to steal their bingo money.
Look, I'll be honest: Despite all the crash courses we undertook, pretty much none of us became experts on what we set out to learn. But maybe—just maybe—reading about how we remembered that learning is fun will remind you, too. —Erik Henriksen, editor
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