A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future
By Michael J. Fox
Published by Hyperion
Copyright © 2010
Michael J. Fox is the Famous actor from the 80’s and 90’s television series “Family Ties” and “Spin City”, as well as the ever popular “Back to the Future” Trilogy. He is also well known for bringing Parkinson’s disease to the forefront, due to his early onset of Parkinson’s. This book is not about being a movie star or having a disease though. It is about the education experience.
If you were asked to be a guest speaker at a graduation ceremony what would you say? Well this book tells us what Michael J. Fox would say. Fox is an interesting person to have speak at a graduation. He didn’t graduate from high school (he earned his GED in his 30’s) and he didn’t go to college, however he does hold many honorary degrees from various colleges. In this book he discusses his lack of formal education, and describes his informal education at H.K.U. (Hard Knocks University).
Having decided to be an actor as a teenager he quit school and moved to L.A. to pursue his dream. Along the way he learned things that he ignored while he was in high school like economics, comparative literature, physics, political science, and geography. While he encourages higher education, he points out that where you really learn is in everyday life – where you have to apply book knowledge.
Many people would describe Michael J. Fox as an optimist, but he describes himself as a realist. He learned early on that in life there are always “Absolutes” – things you can’t change. They are what they are – e.g. 2+2=4. Some of his challenges in life are like that. He has Parkinson’s. That puts certain limitations on his abilities that he can’t change. So instead of fuming about what he can’t do, he educates himself and try’s to enjoy his life within his limitations.
This is not an in depth study of how we learn and it isn’t a movie star trying to sell us something. It is a brief inspirational read to remind us to never stop learning and to roll with the punches. If a speech like this was presented to me at my graduation by a guest speaker I think I just might listen and enjoy it.