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.