As Long as We’re Breathing, We’re Learning
I’ve gone back to school. I’ve prepared for it all week beginning with a conversation with my Starbuck’s barista. Brian welcomed me with my venti, Passion, no sweetener, iced tea informing me “school has started.” “I know,” I tell Brian, “I am taking a class, too.” “Really? Now why would you take a class?” He says with twenty year old curiosity. “To learn,” I respond as he begins laughing. He sees the world in semesters and degrees. I see the world in chunks of learning. I signed up for a three credit English class on magazine writing. I don’t care about the credit. After twelve weeks I want to hold up a portfolio of pitched and in process articles I’ve written.
I drove up to the campus, very comfortable, as I’ve worked on college campuses and enjoy the sensation of being surrounded by individuals interested in the discipline of learning. After getting my parking permit and mortgaging my house for the purchase of two paperback text books (note to self start writing text books) I entered into class. Some things haven’t changed much at all. The instructor greets the class with her credentials and expectations and then my entire world shifts. We are on the computer looking at our syllabus and writing our first assignment. Gone are taking notes on paper hand-outs from the instructor, we are given copies of the day’s PowerPoint lesson on our individual blackboard site. I seemed to be the only student unfamiliar with the site. There were moments when I could feel frustration arise in my body and I became flustered with performance anxiety. I raised my hand (strange) and continued to ask for help as those around me hummed naturally on their computers. We reviewed the grading. This too felt uncomfortable. Everything was assigned points. I knew I’d miss two classes when I registered which meant I’d be missing two quizzes. I gravitated toward extra credit. To earn enough credits to make up for the quizzes I need to write articles for the college newsletter. I have a flashback to my high school days of writing for the paper.
I show up for our first meeting in the middle of the day to a room full of eager writers and editors. Clearly, working isn’t an issues for those in the room. Contrast abounded in this setting, as well. Writers, we learn, will need to take pictures and video and understand basic broadcasting. Paper layout is now done, of course, on-line so newspaper template design and maintenance is needed. The paper is both tangible and on-line, so stories can always be added.
This morning I contacted GoDaddy for some help with converting my blog from one platform site to another. The support, Justin, tells me what I’m about to do is so easy his five year old son is already doing it. Amazing. There are now generations of computer users and the options for learning have increased exponentially. Did you know you can go to iTunes and listen to lectures from major universities around the world through iTunes U for free? Yes, I’m listening to a course there. I’m also enrolled in an on-line multi-media art class, although I haven’t been there for months. Minimized on my screen is an SEO course I’m taking to optimize my blog site. I’m hyperaware of my learning at this moment. If I were writing Oprah’s column on what I know for sure, today, I would say “I know for sure as long as we’re breathing we’re learning.”
Gotta, go. Time to read my textbook.