We do a lot of cooking and entertaining at our house, mainly because I just cannot help myself. Cooking is fun and relaxing for me and always has been. I went to culinary school to help manage that particular problem, though the experience and all the years as a restaurateur only reinforced my habit. There is a lot to learn from the daily challenge that comes with facing one hundred or so people all wanting something different to eat at just about the same time. Let’s sum it up by saying it is an intense and quickly changing few hours that demand concentration. Besides the sybaritic pleasure intermezzos offer, you quickly learn to appreciate how a little intermezzo can go a long way for the chef as well as the diners. Once a foodie always a foodie I think, so, for me, it is quite natural to think of my daily tasks in the metaphor of a multicourse meal. As my responsibilities and academic work become more demanding, I started looking for an ‘intermezzo’ to help me move from task to task.
‘Screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail’ might be the most famous piece of advice given to someone with chilly feet in the face of an overwhelming task. While Lady Macbeth might not be everyone’s first choice for a motivational speaker or life coach her famous line is a great rallying cry for digging into our studies, even if you are not an English major.
It is a little daunting to start our new courses from scratch. The big questions on everybody’s mind right now in our VLE and social forums are how to begin the study process, how to locate answers to the questions in the study guides’ learning outcomes, how to find the balance between working with primary and secondary texts, and how to apply critical theory to primary material we read. Studying at degree level is not as easy as looking up answers. We need some special skills to read and analyze the material we are studying and to begin developing our responses. While none of those big questions has a simple answer, for me, it comes down to focus on study methods and resources. We have to start where we are and make the most of our unique perspective, experience, and the tools at our command. Read the rest of this entry »
Here we are, enjoying another beautiful day in the semi-wilderness. The menfolk are off to Denali and some mountain climbing. Although I am a ‘Fourteener,’ Jelly Bean and I not going along on this trip. We’re staying home to enjoy the peace and quiet. I think we can underestimate how much a location influences and effects how we think and feel, or how important it can be in the texts we read for pleasure or study. No matter the sense of isolation here I am working remotely on both academic and professional projects, and thinking about themes like location for my study plan.
Even here an important professional project required a lot of my time and attention. To stay on track now I reviewed my preliminary goals. My three goals to refine my focus for this term were: 1 – plan my academic calendar for the next 28 weeks, 2 – locate tools to improve my organization and outcomes, and 3 – to identify courses, texts and secondary reading. Two of three are complete. I have a calendar planned, and I found Scrivener as well as a few research tools like my local library’s digital database of texts and articles. My library’s system is the perfect complement to our Online Library which is available to students studying in the University of London’s International Programmes. For my third point, I have selected courses and now am focused on texts and secondary reading. Those decisions are centered on what I will study, like themes and areas of special interest, like how Austen uses location.
Here we are at the edge of the wilderness putting together my study plan for my new courses. Jelly Bean and I like to sit on the screened in porch to read and study. She can watch the meadow while the breeze tickles her nose and I muster my digital resources. So far we have only seen several doe with their fawns ambling by. The fawns are quite small, only about Jelly Bean’s size. Surprisingly the deer and my collie dog are mutually disinterested. The meadow grass must be too sweet and my dog is to comfortable snuggled up beside me while I work.
I have been working on my strategic and tactical study plan for these next four courses. What does that mean, exactly? Well, I want to be sure to accomplish personal and professional goals and also pass my courses with higher marks than my 2013 results. That’s the strategic part. I also want monitor weekly and monthly progress through each module, and be certain to master things like jargon and details specific to individual courses. That’s the tactical component.
What do exam results really mean to me? First, I have to remind you that I am an ETNJ on the Myers Briggs scale which means I need to see relationships between things, analyze them, and make lists for lists. Exam results, the time between exams and getting the results, and even taking exams, is ENTJ heaven. While thinking about it today it occurred to me that exam results mean something different to everybody whether we are pleased or disappointed, are planning next term carefully, or just want to forget all about it until it is time to get on with the next set of courses.