Friday, September 17, 2010


For 10 years I've been the guy who asked grad students how the could possibly want to keep going to school. After 22 years of education, I had needed a break from tests, exams, essays, reports, problem sets, assignments, and not being paid. They all respond with "I love learning."

And my opinion was that one can learn without attending a lab or class every day. In fact, one can potentially learn MORE because they aren't restricted by the subjects they've enrolled in.

Granted, I had toyed with the idea of doing a second bachelor's, in something like English or Philosophy, or some other course that would work my underused right brain. I had a knack for English before I did Engineering, and love to spew bullshit opinions that have no bearing on reality, so Philosophy seemed appealing too. They'd be taken purely for fun.

But as time went on, and I got older, they appealed less. I didn't want to be the "old" guy in a class of teenagers. Hell, I've barely read a book in the past 5 years (almost done Lost Vegas - it helps when I keep a book on the toilet tank), which I hear atrophies ones comprehension abilities.

New passions came, long-held ones expanded. My cooking went from something I enjoyed, to something I was actually getting accomplished with. Photography went from Mom's old Yashica to my own SLR to digital point-and-shoots to my digital SLR. With that final step came an explosion of interest, and many rabbit-holes to go down.

And now, with no small kick in the pants, I'm back in school. It's just taking up spare time that would have otherwise been wasted, and it's not shaping up to be anything challenging. Hell, most of it won't even be educational for now, as I'm starting from the bottom, and I've already taught myself up to the middle.

But it IS working my brain. In 3 days, I've gone from "what am I going to do for that assignment?" to spewing out enough ideas for the whole class to use and then some. I'm finding inspiration in things, and viewing the mundane scenes of daily life as potential subjects to explore. The creative juices are flowing again, and the structure that I've paid for will force me to actually follow through with ideas, to explore new avenues, and ultimately, to actually DO the work.

I've long lamented my lack of extra-curricular activities. I kept procrastinating on doing anything, and made excuses for it. Now, I may find I regret wasting that time.

I have no desire to go back to 30 hours of class a week, nor do I want to research ways to cure cancer. But 3 hours a night, 3 nights a week? For now, at least, that's looking like a pretty appealing practice to continue.


lightning36 said...

I have worked with a lot of adult learners who have returned to college after many years. They are really fun to assist.

Dawn Summers said...

What are you studying? Photography?

Astin said...