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?