Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Step Through Time: Insights and Observations Gleaned from my First On-Line Class

I can see that I am gifted in a way that few are but it has long not been obvious to me. From a very young age I was told that my reading comprehension problem was effort based, not dyslexia. So, it was implanted in my mind by parents and teachers that I didn't understand what I read because I was lazy. Applying that principle universally I saw people who were not good at mathematics, physics or any other of the natural studies as being lazy.

As part of the course, Strategies for Success, weekly video presentations on success behaviours were to be viewed as part of the study materials. There was not one thing that was content based in the Tice video series that I gained great insight from, but, rather, it was my observations of the participants demeanor, statements and questions or body language overall that I learned from. These were people who were engaged in active participation based, presumably, on a voluntary effort to be there and do so. The laziness variable could not be wholly applied to this group of students in that situation. Yet, there did appear to be the absence of an understanding of the subject matter that, to me, is innate.

One example is belief structure. To me it has always been obvious that if you will something it shall be. Those who climb a tree and say "oh, I'm going to fall" will. I hop from limb to limb saying, "I won't fall. I have an inner ear capable of producing impulses to my brain that will help me maintain balance and the synapses in my brain can fire so rapidly that if my foot misses a branch my body will instantly know it and make adjustments to keep me from falling". I always thought people chose to have catastrophe strike them because they like the attention from playing victim.

Through experience and, I suppose, some innate preconceptions I believe I have always had a critical thinking mindset that is reflective of the Paul-Elder Model. If there is one element that I feel may not have been fully integrated into my pattern that would be fairness. I can be empathetic with others and do not believe I would be dedicating my life to the work I do unless I was. However, I also strongly believe in survival of the fittest. Fair is a place with toothless carnies, greasy food and stinky animals. I do not consider it my place to advocate for the viewpoint of others whom I may oppose. However, I often do this during trial preparation. I attack my client from the viewpoint of opposing counsel. On some levels I suppose I practice this subconsciously. It may be rightfully stated then that in analyzing an issue I will make a concerted effort to include the viewpoint of others.

As I start classes now, for the first time in 20+ years, my approach to school work and school in general has changed little but I am detecting a degree of acceptance. The rebel in me will certainly fight to overcome this!! The reason I sought to pursue a degree on-line was purely based upon logistics. I do not have a set sleep schedule, work schedule or anything else that could be considered routine. I could decide to take a trip to Florida tonight and be on the road in the morning without consequence. So, requiring me to meet a daily schedule would be certain failure.

I started out thinking school is all a waste of time and I am not going to do anything I don't want to. This on-line forum is very unlike the compulsorily attended institutions of my youth. Although the modeling and social agenda of managed education are still apparent I do find a more pleasing atmosphere in that I can do as I wish without direct consequence. Now I find myself more willing to do an assignment because it is time that I can use to relax, not because I am being forced to.

I think that I will find that my overall on-line educational experience is going to improve as a result of taking the Strategies for Success class, but not that class, per se. That is to say that having the experience of this class, my first on-line course, has acclimated me to the process. Although I am not comfortable with the navigation or functionality of the website I am learning to adapt to it. I am confident that future classes will have formulated tests, such as those using numbered problems and multiple choice answers. This class didn't provide that opportunity but did address issues faced by some when taking tests. Many of those suggestions affirmed what I already do which leaves me confident that I will have successes in those areas.

At my age and level of experience there is little one can do to teach this old dog new tricks. So, the most important thing I learned from this course is not reflective of any particular lesson but more an overall observation. That is if I want to subject myself to meeting the expectations of a system designed around an artificial structure of what defines success and accomplishment then I can easily do that. It will not be so much of a struggle for me to complete the task because, ultimately, I am just doing this for kicks. The result of pursuing my law degree will not affect who I am as a person or my success.

I can see the much larger picture and am immune to the marketing forces and other outside influences that define success. Success was achieved during the past three days as my son enjoyed each moment that we spent together without a care in the world but doing what we felt like doing. In thinking back on this class there are strategies that can be used in applying teaching to my child which will ensure that we will continue to enjoy each moment we spend together.

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