A Little Encouragement & Other Things In My Hopper

If you are anything like me at this time of year you can start to feel as if you have never read a book.  Snow storms, my professional commitments and term break combine to feel like a geological era has passed since the days of full study schedules.  After bursts of enlightenment in seminars, and this welcome break with so many happy distractions, I sit down again to my studies with the vague notion I might have gone about this all wrong. At least I might have missed a few key points.

Those missing points leap out from my piles of texts and notes.  Right now the forest of information and ideas accumulated from months of study is lush and dense. This vast, marvelous jungle, term break and looming assessments now converge; this convergence comes every year with the same interesting effects including spurts of panic and resolve. Is reading primary texts on schedule? What about research and secondary reading?  Have I identified texts for close study?  Am I prepared to write essays? Whether you sum up this paragraph with a shrug or a cringe a little encouragement can go a long way.

Encouragement is invigorating. A break in the middle of the academic year gives me a fresh perspective. Having a cheer-leader is nice too. My husband thinks I am brilliant, which really does help especially since I know he is a genius.  He has absolutely no doubt about my ability to reach my goals. With resources like brilliance and genius under the same roof re-focusing and managing my harvest of information should be a snap.  His point of view  is very encouraging while I decide how to proceed since upcoming essays and exams are real tests of my skills and information management.

A great tool for managing information is the business world’s ‘hopper’ metaphor.  Information comes into the wide-open top of my hopper; the ever narrowing route it must follow allows careful selection and useful application toward a goal. For me, it is great imagery because I can put every scrap of information about texts and learning processes into my hoppers then take it out in bits and pieces.

I get at the bits and pieces through writing; this year brought a lot of experience with writing as a process and skill.  The writing process allows me to see what I have accomplished and identify where I need to focus. Through writing I gain clarity and objectivity. Conveniently, Support Scheme essays are due very soon. I remind myself to ‘start where you are’ and break big projects like study and essays into manageable pieces.

A big project with manageable pieces is an encouraging description of self-directed study and distance learning. For me, September to December is ‘Phase I’ of my project and December to May is my ‘Phase II; my process pieces help manage results.  Now pencils are sharpened and fresh tablets are stacked; everything is ready to begin a newly focused approach to study, goals and results.  I hope you find it encouraging too.

4 thoughts on “A Little Encouragement & Other Things In My Hopper

  1. I love encouragement too. I only wish I got more of it. But having some supportive ‘international’ friends really helps. Self-encouragement is almost as good as ‘the real thing’, and does actually work, especially if you write it down in BIG letters. ‘You can do it!’ In Japanese they say “Ganbarimasu”, which roughly translates as “I will do my best”. As the deadline for essays lurches ever closer, I find myself using this phrase more and more. I am reminded of a classic quote by the writer Douglas Adams which I will end with: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”


  2. Surely this does help. This kind of ‘you’re not alone’ piece soothes the panic and anxioty that I carry with me during this part of the year.
    You see, Before the 1st of January I was talking about ‘revision and exams next year.’ The dawn of 1st January changed that and suddenly it seems like every thing comes running towards me reminding me of how I fell short of my study goals last year.

    Well, my pencils are sharpened too and note books arranged ready to dig deeper . Iam not ready to burry my head in the sand in August when the results are published.


  3. I really commended the writer for touching so many issues related to our studies. Though, a studennt from different department of the UoL, what really constituted an obstacle to our studies was finance. Had it been you know the most “strangulated” way we follow to finance our studies (with our sweat) you would assume that wherever a book is open we will turn our back. But with all these struggle we will continue purposely to assist humanity.


  4. Hi all you lovely people out there!
    Encouragement indeed is the key word … like for you Graham, in my case it is mostly self encouragement. How lovely to be cheered on by your hubby, Catherine! My family seems to take my abilities for granted and their “Monika can do anything” mode sends me into even deeper panic… what if I can’t!
    Right now, being bogged down with work and family and puppy commitments and confronted by my last year’s diary which shows a double of my current study hours, I am facing the biggest study blues since I’ve started. The essay deadline being pushed forward doesn’t help either. Still, this programme is not for the faint-hearted and the internal support from fellow students is most encouraging. Thank you!
    Monika xx


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