Tag Archives: experience

Keep Off the Grass!


In my years of living in South East Asian cities, I never heard of any child voluntarily playing on the grass. The children would all exclaim loudly that grass is “Dirty!” when asked why they don’t.

One year I was teaching a class of 16yr olds in “O” Level English in an exam preparation class. (Very popular in Singapore, one boy travelled 2 hours each way to be in my class) I could see that the stress levels were rising and that the last thing they needed was even more homework. So, I cancelled the homework, to a room full of wide grins, and instead set the homework as being to go out and just sit on a patch of grass, close their eyes and relax for 5 minutes. Then they had to do a somersault or a cartwheel on the grass. Easy, right?

The next class rolled around and I asked for a show of hands to see who had done the homework. Nothing! No-one had done it. Then one shy girl sheepishly raised her hand. I immediately congratulated her and asked how it had felt. “Wonderful!” she replied, in a near whisper, then broke into the hugest grin. She started telling her classmates all about how it had felt and soon they were all promising to try it for themselves. I never heard if they did or not, as that was the last lesson.

My neighbours in Singapore thought I was a bit crazy too, as I would often kick off my shoes and walk barefoot across the small patch of lawn below our apartment building. After all day in shoes on a hard surface, the grass was so therapeutic to walk on. It really is the simple things in life that are so enjoyable…….


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My Self-Directed Learning Journey


Being self-directed is something I don’t think I have ever consciously thought about. I think I have usually tended to be a ‘go with the flow’ kind of personality, until I started doing this 4th year upgrade course.

Previously I had always been ‘directed’ or ‘guided’ into appropriate subjects at school. The one time I ever remember objecting and wanting to do my own choice I was told quite matter-of-factly that “Boys don’t do Home Economics in Queensland schools”. So much for my idea of becoming a chef!

Even the courses in this online platform don’t allow for choice. We have to do 8 units and there are 8 units available online. Hmmmmm!

Of course, I’m a little bolder now than I was in 1980. I’m trying to break the 8 unit mould and do 2 units on campus in Summer School in Brisbane after completing this unit. It’s a bit of a waiting game at the moment, but if I do get in, it means no Summer holiday break between semesters, but I will be finished by June. I don’t know how Pam can do 4 subjects at once, which I though about attempting. I’m struggling to keep up with 2 subjects.

One thing I have found with the subjects I have done as part of the 4th year upgrade, they tend to assume that you are teaching in a class and that you have access to technology. There seems to be a universal assumption that we are all starting from ‘the same square’. But it is good to see that some lecturers actively work to see us as individuals on our own learning continuums! Also, I have spent an extraordinary amount of money on technology (apps from iTunes and various programmes for my Mac, and now a new iPad) that I really can’t afford, but I need them to complete my work.

But, for the first time, I feel that I am doing something that I want to do because I want to do it.

It has meant sacrifice. It has meant losing a lot. But it also means that I will be able to teach again while at present I cannot (except in NSW – where no-one will employ you because you are over 40 anyway)

This course is a means to an end. I have become much more calendar conscious and much more aware of deadlines. I know my body can’t pull all-nighters and keep going the next day. I’m more conscious of study techniques and funnily enough, after all these years, I know what I’m like!

I avoid triggers of procrastination (impossible to avoid them all though). I set mini goals. I reward myself for accomplishments. I post things on Facebook when I achieve them (so I can get a like or two!). I take pride in my work and no longer see it as a chore. I now feel as if I really am learning something. I get excited about assignments (yes, I dread them) and look forward to applying what I have learnt to them. I have self-discipline. I never had that before when it came to study, ever!

I don’t fear failing, as I know I’m giving my work everything I can to succeed.

Like Justine, I do feel that “life can get in the way” at times, and that has been amply demonstrated this week with assignment work piling up and a pet family dog on the operating table for a freak leg injury. I’m at home alone, having to take care of everything and still keep up my work. I’ll get there. I might cut a few corners, but I will manage everything.

What I think I’m saying is that with age comes not just experience and knowledge, but also resilience. We know how to roll with things, we pick ourselves up to shake the dust off, and we get right back in there. How much more self-directed can we be than that?


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